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THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 



GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



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■ • • • • 



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THE 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 

George Augustus Sala 



WRITTEN BY HIMSELF 



In Owo Volumes 
Vol. L 

lyiTH PORTRAIT 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1895 



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Copyright, 1895, by 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 






• • ' " • •• 



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TCo Sesdfe 

MY BELOVED WIFE 

AS OF HER RIGHT 

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK 



226515 

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PREFACE 

In these days, when almost everybody appears to be 
burning with the desire to let all the world know 
what he has been doing from the time of his birth 
downwards, it is not quite an easy matter to determine 
what title should most appropriately be bestowed on 
a narrative of one's career. I venture to think that of 
such titles as " Reminiscences," " Memories of the 
Past," " Fifty Years (more or less) of My Life," " Look- 
ing Back," and so forth, we have had enough and to 
spare. A goodly number of my admired contempo- 
raries, living and dead, have published their autobiog- 
raphies, and to these they have g^ven appellations, 
some of which it is very possible that I should have 
chosen myself ; but, after long consideration, I deter- 
mined to give to these volumes the name under which 
they are now submitted to the public — namely, my 
" Life and Adventures." 

As to the life, it has been mercifully prolonged to a 
period far more protracted than could reasonably be 
expected in the case of an individual who was a 
wretchedly sickly child, and who has led, in every 
sense of the term, the hardest of lives, in all kinds 
of climates, in most parts of the civilised world. 
Whether that life has been an adventurous one it must 
be left for my readers to determine. It is quite pos- 
sible that I have unnecessarily amplified to the extent 
of half-a-dozen pages events which might well have 
been dismissed in as many lines ; and that I have ex- 



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Vi PREFACE 



aggerated beyond all rational measure things of very 
trifling moment. The only apology that I can make 
in this last respect is that I have written fully on sub- 
jects which have interested me, and continue still to 
present interest to my mind. You will remember that 
which the late General Fleury said when, being at the 
time French Ambassador at St. Petersburg, he re- 
ceived the intelligence that the Second Empire, of 
which, officially, he was the offspring, had hopelessly 
collapsed. His Excellency shrugged his shoulders, 
and, with a smile, observed: "£/ cependant pendant 
diX'huit ans nous nous sommes diablement amuses'* 

I have had not a few dull moments during my life, 
and have had to pass through some periods of utter 
misery and seeming despair ; but, on the whole, I can 
say that during the last sixty years I have found life 
much more amusing than dismal. I am no philos- 
opher, but I believe that it is after a manner phil- 
osophical to laugh whenever you possibly are able to 
indulge in harmless merriment I am not what is or- 
dinarily called a " comic writer," and I should not be 
surprised if many of my brother authors, and more of 
my readers, have long set me down as the " dullest of 
dull dogs;" still I have found during the last two 
generations an infinity of things to laugh at, and now 
and again it may be that I have found people to laugh 
with me as well as at me. 

This being confessedly an autobiography, the critics, 
I apprehend, will refrain from gpirding at me for the 
constant use of the personal pronoun " I." Some years 
ago I used to write in the columns of the Illustrated 
London News a page of gossip called " Echoes of the 
Week," and as the paragraphs related to matters which 



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PREFACE vii 

had come under my personal observation, I was com- 
pelled to use the personal pronoun aforesaid, varying 
it occasionally with " the present writer," " your humble 
servant," and similar devices, which I can but consider 
to be of a mean and shuffling character. I remember 
once receiving a letter — anonymous, of course — in 
which the writer abused me violently for what he 
styled my " shameless and wearisome egotism." " It 
is always I, I, I, I, I, I, with you," wrote this courteous 
scribe, "and everybody is heartily sick of you, you, 
you, you ! " 

Now, I have a definite purpose in alluding to the 
bygone anonymous letter-writer and his vituperative 
epistle, because I wish to ask a question, which, to the 
best of my knowledge and belief, I think has not yet 
been fully propounded to the world, and a conclusive 
answer to which would, 1 fancy, be a not unimportant 
contribution to the science of language. How is it 
that with one exception — at least, so far as I know — 
the English are the only people who, in the middle of 
a sentence, write the personal pronoun " I " with a ma- 
juscule or capital letter? In the interior of a sentence 
the Frenchman writes "je," the Italian "io," the Ger- 
man "ich," the Spaniard "yo," the Greek "ego," and 
so on. Take the following passage from the " Margra- 
vine of Anspach " : — 

" After my amiable sister-in-law and her husband had left me, I 
found much pleasure in my rural amusements at my pavilion. I had 
cows and a fine dairy ; the dairy was situated on the side of the court 
opposite the entrance-gate. One day, while I was standing there I 
perceived a Capuchin friar approaching, who, looking round, soon ob- 
served me, and advancing, addressed me, saying : ' Lady Craven, I 
presume ? ' On my answering that I was Lady Craven, he put his 
hand into his bosom, and showing me a letter, ' This I have brought,' 



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viii PREFACE 

he said, ' from your friend the Duchess de Villermosa. She has con- 
fided it to me, and I have brought it from Madrid, walking all the way, 
in order to deliver it into your own hands.' I begged him to refresh 
himself, and inquired how he could guess that I was Lady Craven ? " 

It may be freely granted that the continually-re- 
peated '' I '' is a typographical disfigurement, and there 
is one way in which it may be completely avoided. 
About half a century since there was an estimable 
Hebrew who was converted to Protestantism and took 
Anglican orders. We will say that his name was Cahn. 
He travelled in the East for a philanthropic purpose, 
and wrote a most amusing account of his wanderings. 
I remember a paragraph in his book, somewhat in the 
following terms : — 

" The sheik of the village sent Cahn a roast kid, a skin of milk, and 
a jar of honey, but Cahn refused them. The local mollah offered to 
give up his house for Cahn*s use, but Cahn declined. Why did Cahn 
decline? Because Cahn was an ass." 

Would you, dear reader, like me to have written my 
" Life and Adventures " in the third person singular ? 
Would it have suited your taste if you had come on 
such a sentence as the following : — " G. A. S.'s tailor 
sent him his bill, observing that it had been standing 
for a long time. G. A. S. replied, saying that he would 
discharge the account so soon as he had received re- 
mittances from his uncle at Celebes. Six months after- 
wards the tailor wrote again to say that he had not 
yet received a cheque from G. A. S. That cheque, 
however, was forwarded the next day. Why did 
G. A. S. send the cheque? Because he was soft- 
hearted, and had just received a considerable sum of 
money from his publishers." 

This obviously is the reductio ad absurdum of the 



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PREFACE IX 

Stupidly malevolent outcry of ill-conditioned critics 
against writers whom they envy and they hate, because 
those writers choose to say what they have to say in 
their own fashion. In my youth I was acquainted 
with a musical composer of considerable culture but 
generally Bohemian tendency, who was wont to boast 
that he could borrow half-a-crown in the Spenserian 
stanza. Why should not I, if it suited my mood, pen 
this autobiography in Alexandrines or in hendeca 
syllables, or in dactylics ? I do not write to please the 
critics, but in the humble hope of interesting the pub- 
lic, and that public I have done my best to interest, to 
entertain, and, to a certain extent, to instruct for nearly 
half a century. 

At all events, 1 can say, with Montaigne, that this 
is a book written in good faith. I have told no lies, I 
have extenuated nothing, nor, I hope, have I set down 
aught in malice. Many of the incidents which I have 
recorded may appear trivial, but they were incidents 
in my life, and if I had omitted them, I should have 
been false to the principle which in the outset I laid 
down for myself as to the form this book should take. 
I have wished to give the general public a definite 
idea of the character and the career of a working jour- 
nalist in the second, third, and fourth decades of the 
Victorian era. What the new journalism may be like, 
I neither know nor care, but most assuredly it is not 
the journalism to which I served my apprenticeship, 
and in which I have been for many years a skilled 
workman. I have spoken freely and, I hope, appre- 
datively of the distinguished journalists of whom I 
have been the contemporary, and I can review the 
work which I have myself done without regret and 



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X PREFACE 

without shame. Almighty Providence has denied me 
genius or even brilliancy of talent ; but it endowed me 
with a stern, strong power of Volition, and to the exer- 
cise of that will, disciplined by industry and strength- 
ened by study, I owe all the public acceptance which 
I have obtained- 

In writing the concluding lines of this book, I can- 
not help feeling considerable regret that limitation of 
space has not permitted me to descant even briefly on 
scores of eminent people of both sexes whom I have 
known, or who have been endeared to me by the sacred 
ties of friendship. But the reading public would not 
have endured four volumes of my " Life and Advent- 
ures," and they may even find two volumes beyond 
their patience. If I had had space I would have said 
something about my brethren of the old Reunion Club, 
held at the Bedford Head in Maiden Lane ; of Henry 
J. Byron, and Tom Robertson, the dramatist ; of F. Lai- 
fourd, Stirling Coyne, Charles Selby, Bayle Bernard, 
Westland Marston, Lester Buckingham, Morgan John 
O'Connell, and James Lowe. These are all names that 
in the bygone you could conjure with — names repre- 
sentative of celebrity in literature and art, but which 
at present, I fear, have become as dim as the shadow 
of smoke. 

The sins of commission in this work are many, but 
those of omission are far greater. I have not had room 
to say half my say, but that which I hscve said I have 
endeavoured to make lucid and coherent. 

GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA. 

Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington. W. 
Christmas t 1894. 



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CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I. 

FAGS 

Nonage i 

Birth, Parentage, and Descent — Brothers and Sisters — 
My Mother— Godfather and Godmothers — A Fairy God- 
mother—Early Recollections— A Tender Nurse. 

CHAPTER n. 

Blindness and Afterwards, ii 

Sir Wathen Waller— The Royal Kitchens at the Brighton 
Pavilion— Suffering many Things at the Hands of Doctors 
—Total Blindness — Homoeopathic Treatment— Recovery— A 
"Rummy" Eye — Learning to Read and Write — The 
Teacher Taught— A Theory of Memory. 

CHAPTER ni. 

Brighton in the Olden Times 19 

Captain Gage — A "Function" without Refreshment- 
Greediness of the Present Age — My Mother and Eliza Ves- 
tris — The Former's Patronesses — A Tribute to Queen Vic- 
toria — Harriet Mellon — The Baroness Burdett - Coutts — 
Notable Confectionery — Viscountess Combermere — " Lent 
Out "for the Evening— The Master of Ceremonies at Brigh- 
ton — Malibran and her Fee — Paganini Sketched— His love of 
Gold and his Generosity. 

CHAPTER IV. 

In Town, 1836-1839 31 

Life at Cricklewood— A Reminiscence of Weber— A Tear- 
ful but Profane Cook— Strong Language in High Society- 



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Xll CONTENTS 



A Black Man with a Waterloo Medal and a Wooden Leg — 
Musical Preferences — Favourite Melodies — Sir Henry Meux 
and bis Brewery — My Mother and the Duke of Wellington. 

CHAPTER V, 

PACK 

Some of My Mother's Friends, 41 

Donizetti and his Pathetic End — His Kinsman and the Sul- 
tan — Bellini — Cherubini and the Ugly Tenor — At a Recep- 
tion of the Countess of Blessington's — Harrison Ainsworth — 
Louis Napoleon— Theodore Hook and his Talk — Thomas 
Campbell — Haynes Bayly — Malibran — Balfe — A Second-rate 
Tragedian — Miss Helen Faucit — The " Masters Farren " — 
Tyrone Power — Fieschi. 

CHAPTER VL 
The St. James's Theatre,* 53 

Braham — Nerot's Hotel — The Royal St. James's Theatre — 
First Performance of Agnes S^el—Moms Bamett in Mon- 
sieur Jacques — London " Not such a very Big Village " : 
Two Anecdotes — Mrs. German Reed — The Strange Gentle- 
man — The Village Coquettes — Artaxerxes — A Child who 
wanted to be Left Alone — The Beggars* Opera — My Moth- 
er's Parts — Dancing the " Cachucha " — Braham 's Sons and 
Daughter — Mrs. Stirling— Dickens and the Dramatisation of 
" Oliver Twist "—The Importance of Little Things : Turning 
an Honest Guinea — ^The Regent's Park Colosseum — Its Va- 
riety Entertainments and Drinking Bars. 

CHAPTER VII. 

From the Bedouin Arabs at the Colosseum to the 
Dawning of Pickwick, 69 

Taking Tea with Arab Acrobats — The Perversion of Ab- 
dallah — End of the Colosseum— John Clayton — A Trans- 
formation : Hebe and Mrs. Gamp — Braham 's Vicissitudes — 
Frances Countess Waldegrave— First Sight of Charles Dick- 
ens — The " Bozomania " — My Brother Frederick — A Young 
Gentleman's Dress in the Second Year of the Reign— At 
School in Paris. 



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CONTENTS xiii 



CHAPTER VIII. 

PACK 

Newgate Novels and an Apology 80 

" Playing at Dickens "—Crown Court Alley— The Taste of 
the Age in Fiction— The Greenacre Murder—" Catherine " : 
a Parody that Failed — Ainsworth's " Rookwood " and " Jack 
Sheppard "—Early Studies in Literature— Advice from Lord 
Brougham, 

CHAPTER IX. , 
In the Green-Room 89 

Sir Michael Costa: Applause behind the Curtain — A 
Theory of the Origin of " Green -Room "—Edmund Yates 
and his Mother — Gilbert k Beckett— " Stock Authors": 
Planch^, William Brought Dion Boucicault— Mr. and Mrs. 
S. C. Hall— Miss Alison — The Lave Chase at the Haymarket 
— Domestic Service Fifty Years Ago— A Generous Physician 
— My Mother's Illness and Benefit Performance— Learning 
Melodies by Ear — Latin and Greek — Minor Accomplishments 
—Barbarity of English Schools— The Fear of the Rod— i/i»- 
kuUe de Langueur — A Family Council 



CHAPTER X. 

Schooldays in Paris, 105 

French Boys and their Games — Black -hole — Piofu^A 
Man of the Name of Baquet— Alexandre Dumas >£&— The 
Salon Frascati — Lady Granville in a Chair of State— Grisi. 
Tamburini, Lablache, and Pauline Garcia— Lady Harriet 
d'Orsay and her Ringlet — French Animosity — ^Back to Eng- 
land. 

CHAPTER XI. 

Provincial Theatricals 1 14 

The Theatre Royal, Dover— Henry Wallack and his Sfip 
of the Tongue— James Wallack and his Sons — An Early 
Novel— Producing The Yelicw Ro5e—V<I. H. Copeland and 
his Honest Check-takers— Charles Sala as Hamlet— Shake- 
speare as the Ghost — A Military Funeral. 



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XIV CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XII. 

rACB 

Back in London, 121 

Heme Bay in 1841 — In the Quadrant again — The Dawn of 
the Envelope— Balfe and his Wife— The Duchess " Vicky " 
— The Princess's Theatre under John Medex Maddox — ^Thack- 
eray's " Mr. Polonius " — ^The Charterhouse and some of its 
Inmates — Madame Feron — ^Duke Charles of Brunswick — ^H. 
P. Grattan— Weiss's " Shape "—A Cloak with a Scarlet Lin- 
ing—Family Details— Running Intellectually to Seed. 



CHAPTER XIII. 
Bolton House, Turnham Green, 133 

At a Pestalozzian School — Athletics a Waste of Time — 
Where the Battle of Waterloo was not Won^-A Fat Dancing 
Master and his Method— A Visit to Drury Lane — Amateur 
Theatricals— Dislike of German — ^Two Linguistic Phenomena. 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Facing the World 142 

In a Studio— Making up Tradesmen's Books— An Un- 
fortunate Publisher — Early Glimpses of Bartle Fr^re, Alex- 
ander Cockbum, and Thackeray— Copying Legal Documents 
— George Wieland — Scene Painting — The Night Dancers — 
An Unfinished Opera : A Coincidence — Stories of Macready 
—A Double Personality— Charles Matthews— A Stock Author 
—The Origin of Box and C^^jr— Bidding Farewell to Scene 
Painting. 

CHAPTER XV. 
Facing the World (Continued) 163 

Albert Smith— Shirley Brooks— The Misses Walkinshaw— 
Angus Bethune Reach— Macready the Victim of a Mistake — 
The Caf6 de I'Europe and its Patrons— Mr. Jabez Hogg— The 
" Process " Idea— The Broughs— On the Staff of the Man in 
the Moon — Louis Haghe and Birket Foster — George Cruik- 
shank— Watts Phillips— Penny Dreadfuls— Edward Lloyd — 
Saville Faucit. 



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CONTENTS XV 



CHAPTER XVL 

PAGE 

Getting on 176 

The Poet Bunn's "Word with PuncA"—My Collecting 
Crazes — A Possible • Final Cause—Learning to Etch — First 
Appearance in Print — Anti-French Feeling in London and 
the Production of Monte Crista at Drury Lane — Appointed 
Editor of CA«/— Sworn a Special Constable — Grisi's Mistake 
in the National Anthem— Sedition and Loyalty at the Opera. 



CHAPTER XVn. 
Early Days of Quill-Driving. 186 

The " Australian Nights' Entertainment " — Reading up 
Convict Literature — ^The Old Reading Room of the British 
Museum — Thomas Miller, the Basket- Weaving Poet— Dra- 
matic Criticism — A Negro Tragedian— Mrs. Warner — Samuel 
Phelps— The Bettys— The Derivation of " Spencer "—The 
Elder Farren: "The Cock Salmon of the Stage "—7>l^ 
D^ath Warrant becomes The Guide to Life — Ada Isaacs 
Menken and her Matrimonial Proclivities— Lola Montes — 
Duke Charles of Brunswick and Louis Napoleon. 



CHAPTER XVin. 

Journalists of the Past 197 

Thomas Littleton Holt and his Ventures— Beards and 
Moustaches— The Railway Mania— The Iron Times— -V^^- 
lowing in Gold— The Crash— Pierce Egan the Elder and his 
Recollections. 

CHAPTER XIX. 
Poverty, 207 

The School in which Johnson Learned Compassion — A 
Slave to the Pipe— Vicarious Smoking— Selling a Quack Med- 
icine — A Windfall— In Paris Again— My First Book of Pict- 
ures: " Hail, Rain, Steam, and Speed." 



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XVi CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XX. 

"No Popery" and the Great Exhibition, . . .214 

"Red-Hot Works of Art"— Cardinal Wiseman— " The 
Great Exhibition Wot is To Be "—Another Windfall : Mak- 
ing a Fool of Myself— Simpson's Cigar Divan— Costly Pocket- 
handkerchiefs. 

CHAPTER XXI. 
Starting a Magazine and Breaking the Bank, . 222 

The Conservative Magazine-^l^xt Death of Sir Robert 
Peel: Police in Mourning— " Pitching into" the Railway 
King— Fate of the New Venture—" Mr. Hopeful " and his 
" System "—My Horror of Mountains— First Visit to Brussels 
—At Aix-la-Chapelle— Mr. Hopeful Changes his System: 
The Result— A New Comic Panorama of the Great Exhibi- 
tion — ^Falling in Love— Doing Justice to a High Tea — Remi- 
niscences of Brougham. 

CHAPTER XXII. 
Ballooning, 238 

Taking a Share in a Balloon— Lieutenwit Gale and his Plan 
for Finding Franklin— A Small Audience and a Disappointed 
Confectioner. 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

The World's Fair ^^3 

Alexis Soyer— Disraeli— The Opening of the Great Exhi- 
bition—The Refreshment Department— In a Balloon Acci- 
dent—A Letter to the Times and its Consequences— Aban- 
doning Art for Journalism — Benjamin Lumley and his 
Kindness. 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

On the Staff of " Household Words." . . • 251 

Articled to an Engraver— /f«r/if^»i« Billy Taylor-^-To 
Paris : the Coup d^Etat-^K Visit to the Lapin Blanc in Dis- 
guise— Dion Boucicault and the Corsican Brothers—h Rival 
Vefsion— Charles Sala's Retirement from the Stage. 



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CONTENTS xvii 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Lotus-Eating, . . 259 

Etching a Panoramic View of the Great Duke's Funeral — 
Dean Milman— Loafing — The Reunion and Savage Clubs — 
PiinckinelUh-h Bed of " Back-stock "—Driving the Quality 
out of Hyde Park — The Leave Us Alone Club — A Digression— 
A Visit to Petticoat Lane with Keeley Halswelle — His Method 
of Draughtsmanship — Henry Vizetelly and the Illustrated 
TYm^j— Edmund Yates- Augustus Mayhew and Charles Ben- 
nett — ^James Hannay— A Disunited Staff — My Time not 
Wholly Wasted— The Gospel of Hard Work— The Comic 
Times and the Train — London — English Hotels. 



CHAPTER XXVL 
My First "Journey Due North," 282 

A Mysterious Travelling Companion— Copenhagen— Fas- 
cinating Offers of Alcoholic Refreshment — Borrowing a De- 
vice of Mazzini's — Installed at St. Petersburg — Russian 
Dishes — ^The Knout — A Censor and his Methods — A Droll 
TadU d*HSte^ Recollections of Napoleon the Great — A 
Female Corporal — Genevieve Ward — A Ball at the American 
Legation — ^About Cigars— The Russian Boyard — ThcAfoujik 
—A Lineal Descendant of Ginghis Khan — Back at Brussels 
—Short Commons. 

CHAPTER XXVn. 
A Misunderstanding with Dickens 307 

Home Again— In Search of a Publisher— A Rupture with 
Mr. Wills and with Dickens— Consulting Mr. Henry James- 
Results of the Russian Trip—'* The Baddington Peerage " : 
the Worst Novel ever Perpetrated— I am Characterized by 
Mrs. Carlyle— Ti*^ Welcome Guest. 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
On the Staff of the "Daily Telegraph," . . .315 

My First Visit to the Offices of the Daily Telegraph in an 
Embroidered Camlet Vest— Getting Rigged Out at a *' Reach- 



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XVlll CONTENTS 



me-down " Shop — Early Leading Articles — Dickens's Quarrel 
with Bradbury & Evans — All the Year Round and Once a 
IVeeJt—A Deputation on the Paper Duty — The Great Lord 
Derby— The Cheap Press Forty Years Ago—" Flying Sta- 
tioners " — Reconciliation with Dickens — ^Another Attempt to 
Break the Bank — A Times Review and its Consequences — 
" Make Your Game "— " Twice Round the Clock "—Edmund 
Yates on his Early Indiscretions — A Hard Day's Work — My 
Radicalism Leavened with Conservatism — ^The St, Johns — 
Different Methods of the D. T, Staff— Penny Papers Held in 
Contempt — George Hodder — Smoking at Public Dinners. 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

PACE 

Matrimonial, 335 

" Gaslight and Daylight " and " Looking at Life "—Night 
Houses— Panton Street, Haymarket, and its Patron Saint- 
Mr. and Mrs. ** Jehoshaphat " — A Split Nose : a Coincidence 
— Bidding Good-bye to Bohemia— Marrying in Haste not to 
Repent at Leisure — ^Settling Down in Brompton Square — D. 
G. Rossetti and his Models— Taking an Interest in Things 
Feminine — Choice Dinners. 

CHAPTER XXX. 
An Adventure on the " Great Eastern," . . .344 

The Leviathan Re-christened — Captain Harrison, " the At- 
lantic Navigator" — An Explosion — A Ghastly Spectacle- 
Lord Stafford's Resourcefulness — My Narrow Escape — The 
Great Eastem*s 111 Luck — A Volunteer Review in Hyde 
Park — Orsini's Attempt on the Life of Napoleon III. — The 
Trial of Dr. Claude Bernard-" Mr. Leighton " and " Mr. 
Millais " in the March Past — " Defence, not Defiance " — A 
Memorable Lev6e — ^Edmund Yates and the " Fifty-guinea 
Hogarth." 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
The Starting of " Temple Bar," 356 

The " Hogarth Papers "—A Drawing of the Boy Hogarth 
at Work'-' Temple Bar and its Staff— Mr. Robert Buchanan 
— ^The Austins — The Saturday Review and its Onslaughts — 
Sir Wm. Harcourt— Abandoning Literature for Journalism — 



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CONTENTS xix 



" Echoes of the Week "—Peter Cunningham and Frederick 
Dickens—" Jack " Reeve— Finding the Hermit of " Tom Tid- 
dler's Ground." 



CHAPTER XXXn. 

fACB 

Upton Court 369 

Upton-cum-Chalvey — A Family Ghost — Rats — Wm. Ro- 
mer^Eton College and Dr. Goodford— A Story of Thackeray 
and " Jacob Omnium " — Death of the Prince Consort — ^The 
Funeral — The Exhibition of 1862— Mr. Beresford-Hope — A 
Meeting in the Chapter House, Westminster. 



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THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

OF 

GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

CHAPTER I 

NONAGE 

On the twenty-fourth of November, 1828, I first saw 
the light in New Street, Manchester Square, London. 
I was the last of a family of thirteen children, only five 
of whom survived the tenderest years. My father was 
mortally sick at the time of my birth ; and a very few 
weeks afterwards he died, at the early age of thirty- 
eight, either in London or in a house long since pulled 
down on the Old Steine, Brighton — a corner house 
hard by Pegge's Royal Hotel. His name was Augus- 
tus John James Sala, and he was the son of Claudio 
Sebastiano Sala, a Roman citizen who came to Eng- 
land about the year 1776 and was concerned with 
Sir John Gallini in the management of the King's 
Theatre in the Haymarket, afterwards Her Majesty's : 
burnt down in 1867, and of which at present not one 
stone remains upon another. 

My grandfather came of an ancient Roman family. 
There are three clans or families of my name in Italy : 
— One in Piedmont, one in Lombardy, and one in the 
Eternal City. Anciently, I apprehend, our people 
were persons connected with some Aula or court; but 



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LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



whether as courtiers, clerks, ushers, or beadles, I do 
not know. In the Dark Ages Aula seems to have got 
corrupted into Sala. I have frequently, in the course 
of numerous visits during the last twenty- five years to 
Rome, sought for information touching my grand- 
father's engendrure ; but I could only ascertain that I 
had a grand-uncle who was domestic prelate to Pope 
Pius VL, and was subsequently created a Cardinal. I 
believe that he is buried at Viterbo, and 1 have two 
portly volumes purporting to be " G. A, Sala," which 
he published in the last years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, on the political history of his time. On the other 
hand, a Spanish gentleman was once so kind as to 
write to me, telling me that a branch of our gens set- 
tled some time in the Early Renaissance in Spain, and 
that one of them rose to the rank of Grand Inquisitor. 
My correspondent courteously forwarded me a tracing 
of the family arms, which I did not elect to adopt : first, 
because I was not desirous to increase my contributions 
to the Inland Revenue ; and next, because in these days 
every cad can get a crest from a fancy stationer. 

Apart from the fact that Monsignore G. A. Sala 
wrote the book to which I have alluded, I have no very 
definite information as to my immediate kindred ; be- 
yond a letter which I discovered in a little box covered 
with calf's skin in which my mother used to keep the 
most private of her papers. The letter, in very faded 
ink, was addressed to my father and was dated from 
Venice, some time in the year 1815. It was signed 
Nina Bucca ; and the writer appeared to be my pro- 
genitor's aunt. She had been married, I gathered, to 
a wealthy merchant at Trieste, but had fallen upon evil 
days, and she sought assistance from my father. The 
postscript was a curious one: "Take care," she con- 
cluded, " never to say that I danced on the tight-rope 
at the Carnival of Venice in 1780." Thus families have 



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NONAGE 



their ups and downs ; and, as worthy John Oxenford 
once rhymingly put it, " one soars high and one falls 
flat, and one becomes an acrobat." I never had the 
slightest ambition or wish to make it believed that I 
came of an illustrious stock ; and it was for that reason 
that I have been quite candid in regard to the " tight- 
rope " dancing incident. It is not so with some people. 
Many a man is never tired of telling you that his uncle 
was cousin german to a baronet ; but he quite forgets 
to tell you that his grandmother was a cook. Thus, it 
has been figuratively remarked that the mule is ex- 
tremely ioTid of talking about his mamma the mare, 
but that he is singularly reticent concerning his papa 
the jackass. 

I was the youngest of thirteen children, of whom at 
the time of my birth only five survived — my brother 
Frederick, who was eight years my senior ; my brother 
Charles, who was six years ; my sister Augusta, who 
was four ; and my brother Albert, who was two years 
older than myself. They were all dark, even to swarthi- 
ness, and had coal-black hair. My eldest sister Henri- 
etta had died at Brighton at the age of four, in the year 
1 8 14. Her bones moulder in the churchyard of the old 
parish church of St. Nicholas ; and were she alive now, 
she would be eighty years of age. I have a plan of the 
churchyard drawn by my father in an old letter-book 
with the sketch of an arrow pointing to " poor Hetty's 
grave ; " and on fine days I often wander into the an- 
cient graveyard to gaze on the stump of the mediaeval 
cross, and to read the inscription on the tombstones of 
Captain Nicholas Tattershall, who helped Charles II. 
to escape to France after Worcester fight, and Phoebe 
Hessel, the female grenadier ; but I have never been 
able to find poor Hetty's grave. 

My mother, Henrietta Catherina Florentina Simon, 
was a native of Demerara. Her father was a wealthy 



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LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



planter owning some hundreds of slaves. Her mother 
was a Brazilian lady from Rio de Janeiro ; and I think 
that I have heard my mother say that there was some 
Red Indian blood in her mother's ancestry. My poor 
sister Gussy was indeed the image of a pretty little 
Indian squaw. At the age of four, that is to say, in the 
year 1793, my mother was sent to England for her edu- 
cation. She came to this country in a merchant vessel 
called the Reindeer, with a whole flotilla of other trad- 
ing ships, under convoy of a couple of frigates. Her 
guardian in England was a Mr. McGarell, who after- 
wards became an immensely rich merchant ; and she 
was accompanied by two negresses as nurses, who, of 
course, were slaves. These good women passed most 
of their time in sitting on the stairs weeping and wail- 
ing to be sent back to the West Indies, and to slavery ; 
and looking at that fact, I should say they had not had 
such a very hard time of it in bondage. 

The school to which the youthful Henrietta Cathe- 
rina Florentina was sent was a huge old brick mansion 
at Kensington. I remember it well ; but in my boy- 
hood it had been converted into a private lunatic asy- 
lum, and was afterwards demolished to make way for 
the palatial residence built for Baron Albert Grant, 
but in which he was not destined to take up a per- 
manent residence ; and his palace, like its predecessors, 
was levelled to the ground. My dear mother often used 
to tell me of her school days. How she used to pay 
one of the little ones a small weekly stipend for crawling 
under the table during evening lessons and scratching 
her chilblains. How there were stocks and back 
boards ; and how in the court yard at the back there 
was a ramshackle old yellow chariot, which the more 
advanced pupils were taught to enter and alight from 
with all proper grace and dignity; so that, if they 
were fortunate enough to marry rich husbands, they 



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NONAGE 



might thoroughly understand the mysteries of enter- 
ing and leaving a carriage. There were a hundred 
girls in the school, some very little ones, and some 
fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen years old; and they 
were nearly all either East or West Indians. In those 
days, when the state of war between England and 
France had to all appearance become chronic, colonial 
girls who came to school in their early childhood, fre- 
quently remained in the same scholastic establishment 
until they were marriageable. ' She used to tell me 
also, how the bread and butter at breakfast and tea 
was so abundant that it had to be brought in piled-up 
wicker baskets. 

For the rest, the education which she received was 
a splendid one. We talk a great deal in these days 
about the " higher education " of girls, and the im- 
mense progress which has been made in the intellect- 
ual training of our daughters at high schools and 
colleges, and at Girton and Newnham. I freely grant 
that my mother never had any kind of mathematical 
training in the sense ordinarily used, although she was 
a capital accountant — and, unless I am mistaken, arith- 
metic is a branch of mathematics ; but otherwise she 
was taught, I apprehend, quite as carefully and quite 
as amply as young ladies at the highest of high schools 
in this scientific era. French she learned perfectly 
from an old French ^ntigrd Marquis, who was only too 
glad to earn a livelihood by imparting his delightful 
language to les demoiselles Anglaises, She wrote a clear, 
firm, legible but delicate and feminine hand. In those 
days the writing master was a very important person- 
age in ladies* schools, and the art of constructing 
" flourishes " was sedulously cultivated. She drew ad- 
mirably, and she sang beautifully, being gifted with a 
charming mezzo-soprano voice. She was a perfect 
pianoforte player; but more than all these, was she 



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LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



thoroughly well-read in English literature of the high- 
est kind. Hume, Robertson, Pope, Swift, Addison, 
and Steele were familiar to her, and to her being well- 
versed in the writings of the great theologians of 
the seventeenth century, I owe the addictiveness 
which I have always had for such writers as Baxter, 
Hooker, Stillingfleet, Jeremy Taylor, South, and Bar- 
row, whose sermons and essays I have been continually 
copying out and striving to imitate for more than 
forty years, and who have often helped me over a stile 
in some of the many thousand leading articles which 
I have contributed to a single London daily news- 
paper, and which the envious and the foolish usually 
agree to say, are "knocked oflF." Knocked oflF, for- 
sooth ! They have been ground out of my brains in 
the course of a life more than half of which has been 
devoted to systematic and unwearying study. 

I was christened at the Church of St. Mary, Wynd- 
ham Place. My godfather was a Captain Fairfield, 
whose son I have yet sometimes the pleasure to meet 
in society, and from the Captain, I surmise, I got my 
third Christian name of Henry. My godmothers were, 
first, the Hon. Mrs. Georgina Villiers, who had been a 
Miss Elphinstone and was the daughter of Viscount 
Keith, the Admiral whose unpleasant duty it was to 
convey to Napoleon the intelligence that the British 
Government intended to deport him to St. Helena. 
Lord Keith died five years before I was born ; but I 
well remember the Viscountess Keith, a little old lady 
in a black silk calash who lived at i lo, Piccadilly. 
When I was about ten or eleven my mother used to 
take me sometimes to see the Viscountess. She al- 
ways gave me a guinea; while to my parent she 
would make a highly acceptable present of a bottle 
of old port wine. I was wont to eye her furrowed 
but beautiful features very intently, and I am afraid 



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NONAGE 



the good old dame must have thought that I was a 
very rude boy and was trying to stare her out of 
countenance. But there was a very good reason 
why I scanned her so attentively. My mother had 
told me that Lady Keith was one of the daughters of 
Mrs. Hester Thrale; that she had been Dr. John- 
son's "Queenie," and had often sat on the knee of 
that great and good man. My second godmother 
was Lady Augusta Fitzclarence, one of the children of 
William IV. by the delightful Dorothy Jordan. She 
was afterwards Lady Augusta Gordon, and eventually 
Lady Augusta Kennedy Erskine, and I remember vis- 
iting her when quite a little boy at Kensington Palace, 
where she filled some kind of oflSce. 

I hisive a little more to say in connection with my 
baptism. Two or three years ago an unknown female 
correspondent wrote to me saying that she was the 
possessor of my christening cap. Whether she wished 
to present that trifling article of infantile attire to me 
as a gift, or whether her wish was to part with it for 
a consideration I am not certain. I am afraid in any 
case that I never answered her letter. Again, a few 
days after I landed in Melbourne in 1885, ^ venerable 
lady called upon me at Menzies Hotel and informed 
me that she had held me in her arms at the baptismal 
font. She was very talkative and very nice, and I 
think she did not go away without some slightly sub- 
stantial appreciation on my part of the honour which 
she had done me in the winter of 1828; but oddly 
enough, it chanced that dining that self-same evening 
at Government House with the then Governor of Vic- 
toria, Sir Henry Loch, I incidentally alluded to the 
visit paid me by the nice old lady.. " Dear me," quoth 
His Excellency, " a nice old lady such as you describe 
called on me a short time after my arrival in the col- 
ony, and she informed me that she had held me in her 



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8 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

arms at the baptismal font ever so many years ago." 
Well, we are all bom to fulfil some function or another. 
This lady's calling in life was evidently to hold babies 
when they were christened. Perhaps she was a third 
godmother whose name had escaped me. A fairy 
godmother, possibly. 

I am now about to mention a circumstance which 
may provoke a considerable amount of incredulity. 
That I have generally speaking a fairly retentive mem- 
ory is simply due to the fact, that early in my teens I 
began systematically to cultivate and to discipline and 
exercise that memory day by day and night by night, 
with a view to the conservation and utilization of one 
of the pleasantest and most profitable of human facul- 
ties. But there are spontaneous phenomena of mem- 
ory, and I unhesitatingly declare that I have a perfectly 
distinct remembrance of the death of George IV., who 
breathed his last, as everybody knows, in the month of 
June, 1830, when I was less than two years old. Who 
told me the king was dead, and how I heard it I know 
not ; but there is the fact, and to it I will add the cir- 
cumstance that the announcement of the death of the 
Fourth George is indissolubly associated in my mind 
with a yellow postchaise. The only theory that I can 
possibly form on the subject is that the dying monarch 
was attended in his last moments by two most eminent 
medical men, Sir Henry Halford, and Sir Matthew 
Tierney. The last was my mother's intimate friend, 
and frequently attended me in my early childhood, and 
it is just as I say within the bounds of possibility that 
he may have driven up to town from Windsor in a 
postchaise, and conveyed the mournful intelligence to 
my mother in my presence. 

I remember nothing else till the year 1832. Of the 
great cholera epidemic of that year I preserve a photo- 
graphic recollection. We lived in North Audley 



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NONAGE 



Street opposite the town house of the Earl of Claren- 
don. One of the servants in his lordship's household 
had died of cholera. The coffin, bound with ropes, 
was brought out to be placed in the hearse ; but an im- 
mense mob had collected, as there was a rumour that 
the body had not been washed, and something very 
like a riot broke out, so serious was it, that a company 
of the Foot Guards had to be sent for from the adja- 
cent Portman Street Barracks. I can hear the hoarse 
roar of the populace and see the red coats and white 
trousers of the soldiers now. 

There is only one more reminiscence of our house in 
North Audley Street that lingers in my mind. The 
room in which I slept was in the top of the house : it 
was a front room, and I was a sleepless little child. 
By what by me ignored process of sciagraphy the 
phenomenon came about, or whether that which I saw 
was merely the offspring of the imagination, I will not 
undertake to determine ; but I have a clear recollection 
of the shadows of two gigantic figures which seemed 
to me to be projected now on the ceiling and now on 
my bed, where I was tossing and tumbling a sleepless 
invalid little urchin. Then the mental curtain fell 
again to rise only with very brief intervals for three 
years. I was told in after life that I was sent in my in- 
fancy out to nurse at Edgware. Sixty years ago chil- 
dren, taken from the care of the monthly nurse, used 
to be bundled into the country and kept there for four 
or five or six years. When I was about six, it appears 
that my nurse at Edgware was informed that I was 
about to be removed from her custody. Probably, I 
was a profitable bantling with whom, for substantial 
reasons, she was unwilling to part ; and she evinced her 
displeasure at my being taken away in a remarkably 
decisive manner. I had had an attack of the measles ; 
and as I was recovering, this strong-minded woman — 



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10 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

it was in the month of March — opened every door and 
window in her cottage and left them open for a consid- 
erable time. The result was a horrible attack of in- 
flammation. I turned purple, I lost my hearing, and, 
some time afterwards, I lost my sight. 



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CHAPTER II 

BLINDNESS AND AFTERWARDS 

There werq scenes of duskiness and dimness and twi- 
light before the actual night came. I was taken, I 
think, to almost every eminent oculist in London, and 
to many physicians and surgeons besides, who in- 
cluded in their practice the treatment of diseases of 
the eye. Sir Walthen Waller, who had been physician 
to George IV., saw me early in the thirties. He had 
apartments in one of the minarets of the Pavilion at 
Brighton. All I remember of him was that he had a 
fiilly powdered head, which, to my nervous thinking, 
he wagged at me in a far from encouraging manner. 
Otherwise, I was much more interested with the Royal 
kitchens at the Pavilion, through which, by special 
favour, we were conducted. The bright copper stew- 
pans, the huge roasting ranges, the cooks in their white 
caps and jackets and aprons, filled my childish mind 
with rapture ; and the scene which I saw at Brighton 
in the early days of William IV. reverted to me 
brightly and vividly when, long afterwards, the late 
Lord Alfred Paget kindly took me through the kitch- 
ens of Windsor Castle, where unusual activity was 
reigning in consequence of the visit of the Emperor 
Alexander II. of Russia to Her Majesty the Queen, 
soon after the marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh to 
the Tsarevna. 

Then, also in Brighton, Lawrence, of the Grand Pa- 
rade, had something to do with my unfortunate visual 
organs ; and in London I was taken to the famous 



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12 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Lawrence of Whitehall, against whom there was a tre- 
mendous outcry just then in goody-goody circles, in 
consequence of some rather heterodox opinions of 
which the great surgeon had delivered himself in the 
course of some lectures on physiology. The elder 
Guthrie also was kind enough to give my mother the 
benefit of his advice. A stern, rugose, seemingly 
crabbed but really kind-hearted man was Mr. George 
James Guthrie. He had been an army surgeon of 
great distinction ; and in that capacity he had ampu- 
tated the leg of the Marquess of Anglesey, which was 
fractured by the last shot, so they said, fired at the 
battle of Waterloo. Guthrie's son Charles also became 
a distinguished surgeon, and was also a dashing young 
man about town in the days when I also was rambling 
on the outskirts of Bohemia. Of Sir Matthew Tierney 
I have already made mention ; and I should also enu- 
merate Sir James Clark as one of the kind doctors who 
saw me, heard the catalogue of my symptoms, gave 
advice, and would take no fee. 

I shudder now, sometimes, when I think of the tort- 
ures that I underwent through the kind endeavours of 
those who loved me to make me see. I will not posi- 
tively say that my eyes were ever taken out and 
scraped, and then put back again ; but my medical 
advisers seemed to contemplate such operations, such 
extreme processes, and it seemed to me that surgical 
science almost exhausted herself in endeavours to 
lighten my imminent darkness. How many times 
have I been cupped, how many dozens of leeches have 
been applied to my temples ! Then the quacks had a 
turn. My eyes were rubbed with " golden ointment," 
and I was made to take some nostrum called, I think, 
" Grimstone's Eye SnuflF." I knew Grimstone in the 
flesh some fifteen years after I had, all unwittingly, in- 
haled his herbal snuff. He kept a tobacconist's shop 



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BLINDNESS AND AFTERWARDS 1 3 

in High Street, St. Giles's. He was a merry man with 
a great liking for the drama ; and I used to do profita- 
ble business with him by getting pictorial advertise- 
ments of his name into the '* comic business " of the 
pantomimes. Then the strange device was tried of 
piercing my ears. I perfectly remember the operation, 
which took place at a jeweller's shop in the Quadrant, 
Regent Street ; and if I feel the lobes of my ears now, 
although the orifices have long since been closed, the 
piercing is still palpable. After that they shaved my 
head. A wig it was not considered expedient that I 
should wear ; but a black silk handkerchief was bound 
round my head, and the fringe of this kerchief was 
supposed to do duty as hair. It was under these cir- 
cumstances, I think, and when the twilight was getting 
murkier and murkier every week, that I once heard 
my mother's maid speak of me to my nurse — a very 
different person from the female who tried to kill me 
— ^as "that miserable little object." I have not the 
slightest doubt that I was an object; and I am sure 
that what with the doctors and the leeches and the 
cupping, I was intensely miserable; but the contu- 
melious expression of the lady's maid cut into my 
heart as though with a sharp knife. It was almost a 
relief when the twilight deepened into night, and I 
was totally blind. 

Through God's mercy I was not unhappy while I 
was a blind boy. I had, as I have already stated, a 
dear sister named Augusta. When I became sightless 
I could neither read nor write ; but I was an observant 
child, and had often had my ears boxed for asking 
questions and listening too attentively to the conver- 
sation of my elders. How many thousands of clever 
children have been made wretched through the cruel 
stupidity of parents in giving effect to the accursed 
proverb that " little pitchers have long ears ! " The 



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14 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

faculty of observation, of curiosity, and of retaining in 
the mind that which is acquired should be assiduously 
cultivated by every judicious parent. In a vast major- 
ity of instances stupid mothers do their very best to pre- 
vent their children learning the things which in after 
life will be the most useful to them. Out of the depths, 
then, of my necessity came the sweet low voice of my 
sister to cheer me, to comfort, and to help me. For 
hours every day she read to me. First the Bible and 
stories for children and fairy tales ; afterwards books 
of history, of travels, and biography ; lastly, such ex- 
tracts from the newspapers of the day as she thought I 
could understand — and I very soon understood a great 
deal more than the dear little soul wotted of. 

I really do not know how long I was completely de- 
prived of sight ; but I do know that there came after 
long, long waiting a voice in addition to those of my 
mother, my sister, and my nurse. It was a voice 
speaking English with a strong French accent : being 
that indeed of good Dr. Cur6e, a French homoeopathic 
physician, ind a pupil, if I am not mistaken, of the 
famous Hahnemann. I was subjected to homoeopathic 
treatment, and put on the homoeopathic dietary : dry 
bread and biscuit, macaroni, and vermicelli plainly 
dressed, meat jellies, boiled chicken, no salmon, but 
plenty of oysters, beef tea, green vegetables, plain cus- 
tards, arrowroot, sweet curds, preserved apples, stewed 
rhubarb, and so forth. No wine nor beer, no vinegar, 
no pickles, and no salad. Dr. Cur6e maintained that 
my blindness was only an acute form of inflammation 
of the mucous membrane of the eye ; and I think that 
his globules and dilutions comprised arnica, aconite, and 
Pulsatilla, with some mysterious medicament, which I 
afterwards read in his prescription as " Mercurius Sol : " 

He was unfailingly and indefatigably careful in his 
treatment of me, and repeatedly told my mother that 



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BLINDNESS AND AFTERWARDS 15 

the days were not far off " ven I should vear the vine 
green shade over mine eyes before seeing like a gen- 
tlemans"; and the days of the green shade did come 
after a long, bitter, and, but for my sister, heart-break- 
ing time, and I Saw. I recovered entirely the sight 
of one eye ; recovered it so perfectly that I was able, 
during some years, to follow the craft of an engraver 
on metal and stone ; recovered it so completely that I 
acquired a minute handwriting, in which I have indited 
thousands of leaders, and paragraphs, and forty books 
of fiction and travels and adventures. The other eye 
— the right one — has never been good for much. 
Closing the left eye, I can see with the " duffer " a 
bright light or a face, or the p^ge of a newspaper held 
close to me, and nothing else. In this, the evening of 
a long, laborious, and happy life, I am most profoundly 
grateful to Heaven for the goodness shown to me in 
allowing me to retain even this spark of vision, and if 
I go blind again, I shall not repine. 

I cannot help laughing in this connection with a 
remark once made by my good friend Edw^lrd Lawson, 
editor and chief proprietor of the Daily Telegraph, to 
my wife, who, conversing with him on some business 
topic, incidentally remarked, that " George had only 
one eye." " Yes," replied the gentleman who is now 
Sir Edward Lawson, Bart., " but that is a rummy 
one." If it had not been a " rummy " one, I should 
not have done that which I have done, little as the sum 
of my labours may appear. 

I have said that when I partially recovered my sight, 
I was quite ignorant of the simple arts of reading and 
writing; and so soon as I was pronounced valid by 
Dr. Cur6e, and was emancipated from the green shade 
bondage, I was taught by my sister to read. Of course, 
I knew the alphabet : it was only the signification of 
the different letters that I had to acquire ; and I got 



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l6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

an immensity of assistance in this direction from a 
natural graphic gift. At all events, I drew, first on a 
slate, and afterwards on paper, all the capitals and the 
minuscules over and over again, backwards and upside 
down; and thus fortified, I began to stumble, first 
through the New Testament, and next through the 
columns of the Times newspaper. I was six months at 
this most fascinating of hard labour; then, without 
any assistance at all, beyond that of a strong will and 
determination, and the exercise of the graphic faculty 
with which I was endowed, I taught myself to write. 
Mr. Edward Knobel, who had been my father's solici- 
tor, and who continued to act as my mother's legal 
adviser, gave me a tall folio entitled " The Universal 
Penman," engraved by George Bickham, printed for 
the author, and sent to the subscribers if living within 
the bills of mortality, 1733. I have that folio in my 
library now. An immense variety of specimens of 
calligraphy, running hands, upright hands, black letter, 
print, large and small, I greedily considered, and cop- 
ied from Bidkham's copper-plates, every one of which 
was headed with emblematic sculptures, representing 
respectively Knowledge, Commerce, Education, Mi- 
nerva, Pegasus, Mercury, Britannia, Telemachus, and 
His Majesty King George II., in a full flowing peri- 
wig. I used to sit on a little low stool with " The 
Universal Penman " propped up easelwise against 
some other book on the carpet ; and on my drawing- 
board, which I held on my knee, I imitated not only 
the different styles of handwriting, but also, as well as 
I could, the emblematic sculptures at the top of the 
pages, and especially the flourishes between the differ- 
ent paragraphs — flourishes like swans, like eagles with 
outspread wings, like cornucopias, like the waves of the 
sea, like ships in full sail, and like festoons of flowers. 
Manifestly, this was not the proper way of learning 



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BLINDNESS AND AFTERWARDS 1 7 

to write. I ought to have sat at a table with my el- 
bows properly squared, holding a quill pen between the 
thumb, the forefinger, and the third finger, with the 
fourth finger and the little finger a little bent As a 
matter of fact, I held my pen as I hold it now, between 
the thumb and the forefinger, in an almost perpen- 
dicular position, and pegged as I still peg away. My 
mother would occasionally take me in hand and give 
me a lesson in the orthodox fashion, which she had 
learned from her writing-master at the great boarding- 
school at Kensington ; but no great success attended 
her efforts, and the lesson usually ended, either by her 
boxing my ears if she was in an evil temper, or, if she 
was in a good one, by her laughingly telling me to fol- 
low my own devices. 

And now occurred a strange thing. I must have 
been, I should say, either eight or nine years old by 
this time. My sister unconsciously had taught me a 
large number of things. From the books which she 
had read to me, I had gathered a fair knowledge of 
English and French history ; I was familiar with at 
least a dozen of the Waverley Novels; I had the 
popular version of the Arabian Nights at my tongue's 
end ; and I had begun to be minutely conversant with 
and intensely interested in the career of Napoleon 
Bonaparte. One of the first books that I read after I 
recovered my sight was Barry O'Meara's " Voice 
from St. Helena." Thus, it came about that as soon 
as I had the full power of my one eye, and that I 
could read distinctly and write legibly, I began to 
teach my sister. Out of the pigeon-holes of my mind 
which she (Lord love her !) had filled to repletion with 
facts, I was able to impart to her things which had 
only made a transient trace on her own dear intellect. 
It was settled that her vocation in life was to be that 
of a governess : and she and I read systematically and 



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1 8 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

industriously, I being the preceptor till she was sent 
to a ladies* school in the Grand Parade, Brighton, pre- 
paratory to being " linished " in Paris. 

It is my firm and unalterable belief, often repeated, 
that, so long as our mental faculties have not fallen 
into decay, we do not and we cannot forget anything. 
Carlyle was of the contrary opinion. He held that the 
human mind would only hold a given quantity of 
things, that quantity to be determined by the mental 
capacity of the recipient ; and that even in the case of 
the aptest intellectual organisation, when the cask of 
memory was, so to speak, full to the bung, it would 
be necessary to expel some item of knowledge to make 
room for the new comer, just as it has been humorously 
said, that if the Government placed an additional Brit- 
ish soldier on the Island of Malta, another soldier, al- 
ready in garrison there, would fall off. I should be 
wretched if I believed that such was indeed the truth. 
I hold that we can always be learning fresh things, and 
by the exercise of the will so discipline and subordi- 
nate our memory as to retain both the old and the new 
knowledge which we have gathered. I love to think 
of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, at eighty years of age, 
making a drawing of himself as a little child in a go- 
cart, with the inscription beneath "Ancora impara." 
Still he learns ; and I am fortified in this creed by the 
conviction that if a man had all the learning of a 
Renan, a Huxley, a Jowett, or a Grimm, the erudition 
which he had heaped up would still be only of the nature 
of a grain of sand in the immense desert of the things 
which he had yet to learn. That there are good memo- 
ries and bad memories I suppose that I must conceive ; 
but the worst of memories should be improved and de- 
veloped by discipline, training, and the exercise of stern 
volition; whereas the best memories will go to seed 
and become useless if the rein of discipline be relaxed. 



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CHAPTER III 

BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 

It must have been in the year 1835 that I began to be 
consecutively cognisant of the world and its ways. I 
have fixed on this particular year for a good many 
reasons. My mother lived for a third of the year in 
London, six months at Brighton ; and the remaining 
three months she usually passed in great country 
houses, both as a guest and in pursuit of her pro- 
fession as a teacher of singing in the Italian manner. 
In 1835 we were living in Cannon Place, off the King's 
Road. A regiment of Guards — the Scots Fusiliers — 
were in garrison at the time ; and I recall to mind the 
trim figure of Captain Gage of that distinguished 
corps, in full uniform, swinging his bearskin to and 
fro in my mother's little drawing-room, and telling her, 
in tearful accents, that Charles Fitzherbert was dead. 
The friend whom he was lamenting was the only son 
of Mr. Thomas Fitzherbert, a Roman Catholic gentle- 
man of ancient lineage, and a near connection, I be- 
lieve, of George the Fourth's Mrs. Fitzherbert. He 
was taller, and gaunter, and more grizzled than Abra- 
ham Lincoln, and he was a perfect type of the kindly, 
courteous, dignified gentleman of the old school. He 
was a firm friend of my mother ; and when we were 
in town, and I was ten and my sister fourteen, we used 
to make frequent pilgrimages to Mr. Fitzherbert's 
chambers in a house, relatively speaking, as tall as 
himself at the south-east comer of Hanover Square, 
the fagade of which mansion exhibited, and may still 



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20 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

exhibit, a wondrously beautiful specimen of the brick- 
laying of the early Georgian era. The house had 
been at one time in the occupation of that Viscount 
Palmerston who wrote the well-known and exquisitely- 
touching lines on the death of his wife from consump- 
tion. 

Captain Gage, who so deplored the death of Charles 
Fitzherbert, I knew afterwards in my adolescence as 
Major and as Lieutenant-Colonel Gage. He lived to 
a great age, but was kindly, cheery, and merry to the 
last; and so late as 1864, my deceased friend Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Ford of the Scots Guards — whose acquaint- 
ance, which I made at Montreal, in Canada, in 1863, 
ripened into an affectionate friendship, terminating 
only with his life — told me that Colonel or General Gage 
was at that period still a constant frequenter of the 
stalls at the theatres, and was known as " Green ** Gage. 

He was not the only officer of the Household Bri- 
gade who was a constant guest at my mother's house 
in Cannon Place. She had earned, indeed, the pleas- 
ant sobriquet of the "Mother of the Guards;" and 
her Wednesday afternoons were assiduously frequent- 
ed by the dashing young subalterns of the Scots 
Fusiliers whom she diligently schooled in that grande 
maniire of which she was the undoubted possessor. 
The greatest ladies in the land used to come to those 
receptions, where not so much as a cup of tea was 
habitually offered. People came only to talk and to 
listen to good music ; and the music, I can assure you, 
was worth listening to. The present age I cannot 
help thinking to be an extremely greedy one. How- 
ever trifling may be the function. Society will not 
willingly patronise it unless the proceedings include 
something to eat and drink. The fine ladies who at- 
tend sensational trials take cases of sandwiches and 
flasks of sherry with them ; and when they lunch at 



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BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 21 

home they have scarcely finished a plenteous meal 
when they begin to drive from house to house stuffing 
themselves with tea, bread and butter, plum-cake, and 
chocolate-creams. Nor does the (too) late dinner of 
which they subsequently partake prevent them from 
storming the refreshment-buflFets at fashionable "At 
Homes" and fiercely struggling ior pdU de faie gras^ 
sandwiches, ices, and champagne-cup. They con- 
clude a day's gormandising by supping after the opera 
or the play at the Savoy or the Bristol. You may tell 
me that it was always thus in patrician society. I 
deny it. Look at the toilet scene in Hogarth's " Mar- 
riage k la Mode." To be sure, the black servant is 
handing a cup of chocolate to Lady Betty Modish or 
Lady Kitty Frisk, or her analogue ; but at least the 
gay company are not eating. They are laughing, 
chatting, singing, tootling on the flute, and perhaps 
flirting a little. That is what they used to do in Can- 
non Place, Brighton, a.d. 1835. 

I am a little late in telling you, but quite too tardy 
in saying that my mother had been left, in 1828, a 
widow, with no money to speak of, and with five chil- 
dren to support. She was a handsome matron, who 
had just passed her fortieth year. Her picture in 
crayons, drawn by a Miss Drummond, which is en- 
graved in an article that appeared on her in the Lady's 
Museum in 1827, was partially destroyed by an unfort- 
unate accident ; but I had it restored, and it hangs 
now in my own house in Eastern Terrace, Brighton. 
In the days of her early matronhood, I can only, of 
course, remember her as something majestic, and to 
me at times positively awful. In the portrait of which 
I speak she is a beautiful woman of thirty-three ; her 
hair dressed in ringlets very high, and with a tiara 
and a " stomacher," as it was then called, of jewels 
over a bodice of satin. This was, indeed, the dress 



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22 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

which she had worn on her first public appearance in 
1827, at Covent Garden Theatre, then under the man- 
agement of Charles Kemble, in the character of the 
Countess Almaviva, in a fearfully-mutilated, patched, 
and cobbled version of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. I 
am sorry to say that the mutilator, patcher, and cob- 
bler was that superb English musician. Sir Henry R. 
Bishop. The Susanna of the evening was the en- 
chanting Eliza Vestris,^ then — she was just thirty — in 
the golden noontide of her beauty. 1 am afraid that 
my mother and Madame did not get on very well that 
evening. They were good friends in after-life ; but I 
have heard that on the night of my mother's d^but 
there was a " tiflF " between them behind the scenes, 
and even on the stage itself, which, in the middle of 
one scene, the wilful Vestris abruptly left. She was 
recalled, however, by the uproar of the audience ; and, 
as a peace-oflFering, sang — shade of Mozart ! — the bal- 
lad of " I've Been Roaming." Perhaps Vestris was 
jealous of the sumptuous jewels worn by my mother. 
Poor soul ! The gems were not her own. They had 
been lent to her for the occasion by Lady Pole, the 
wife of the gallant Admiral Sir Charles Morice Pole, 
whose daughter. Miss Anna Pole, had been a pupil of 
my parent, who taught the young lady not, indeed, to 
sing, but to speak, since she had been born almost 
wholly dumb ; and my mother had, with infinite pains, 
and by means of some ingenious process connected 
with an ivory ball to be rolled between the tongue and 
the teeth, succeeded in imparting to her the power of 
articulate speech. 

My father's fortunes had been waning for some 
months before his death. I have sorrowfully verified 
that fact by finding in his account-books frequent ref- 
erences to " South Seas sold out," " consols sold out," 
and so forth ; while in a scrap-book full of old-time 



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BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 2$ 

caricatures and newspaper cuttings, appears the alarm- 
ing entry : — " Mr. Luscombe, money-lender, Bennett 
Street, St James's. Call at eleven." Happily for 
herself, throughout her brilliant and prosperous mar- 
ried life — 1814-1828 — my mother had been perfecting 
herself in the vocal art ; and, as I have said in a pre- 
vious chapter, she was not only a very sweet singer, 
but an accomplished pianist. She was a pupil of the 
famous Velluti, one of the last of the male soprani ; 
and she presided at the pianoforte at his academy of 
vocal music. At the death of my father she took with 
indomitable courage to the profession of a teacher of 
singing. Terms for such tuition were then very high ; 
and she easily obtained a guinea or a guinea and a half 
for a single lesson. 

She had the countenance of the good Queen Ade- 
laide, of two of the Royal princesses, daughters of 
George III., and of the Duchess of Gloucester. Even 
after the accession of our present beloved Sovereign, 
my parent still enjoyed some marks of Royal patron- 
age. Every year until her final retirement into pri- 
vate life, she gave concerts in London ; and, prior to 
these performances, a programme, printed on white 
satin and edged with Brussels lace, used to be sent to 
the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The offering was 
invariably acknowledged by a cheque for ten guineas. 
I mention this trifling circumstance because the senti- 
ment of gratitude to the Royal Family, for the kind- 
ness shown to my beloved mother, has never been, 
and never will, I hope, be eradicated from my breast. 
When I had any politics at all — I left them in Aus- 
tralia in 1885 — I was one of the people called Radicals, 
and a very bitter and perhaps blatant Radical, to boot ; 
but I have never swerved in my loyal love and rever- 
ence for the Gracious Lady who rules this vast empire 
so mildly and so wisely. 



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24 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



Among the ladies who were especially kind in pat- 
ronising and befriending my mother, I remember first, 
the Duchess of St, Albans, the once fascinating ac- 
tress, Harriet Mellon, who after the death ol her first 
husband, the immensely wealthy Mr. Thomas Coutts, 
espoused en secondes noces the Duke of St. Albans. To 
me, the Duchess comes back stately, benignant, in 
black velvet and diamonds; just as, longo intervallo, 
the image of Queen Anne, in similar array, came back 
to Dr. Johnson ; but more distinctly do 1 remember a 
young lady who always accompanied her, and who, in 
1837, was to inherit her vast wealth. This was Miss 
Angela Georgiana Burdett, now known and beloved 
the whole world over as the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. 

It must have been in 1835, too, that as a little urchin 
I went with my mother to a grand Twelfth Night en- 
tertainment given at the Duchess's house at Brighton. 
Where it was situated I fail to remember ; but I can 
recall clearly that when the Twelfth Cake was cut, 
the slice which fell to Miss Angela Burdett contained 
a magnificent diamond ring. Most children are 
greedy enough ; so I have no hesitation in admitting 
that the distinctest impressions in connection with 
this grand Twelfth Night are connected with the cake 
and the supper. The cake itself — very possibly made 
at the historic Mutton's, on the King's Road — was or- 
namented with a vast number of musical instruments 
in miniature, and I brought away the models of an 
ophicleide and a kettledrum, the principal parts of 
which I am afraid that I devoured before I went to 
bed. To the supper table there was a very beautiful 
and I should say unique annexe, in the shape of a con- 
fectionery table, the decoration of which was designed 
as a compliment to Sir John Ross, the Arctic explorer, 
who had not long before returned from a fresh expe- 
dition to the North Pole, equipped at the expense of 



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BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 2$ 

the great distiller Sir Felix Booth. The field of artis- 
tic confectionery represented the Arctic regions ; and 
everything, including the frozen-up ships — I can see 
the tall masts and the black rigging, snow-flecked, 
now — ^the icebergs, the polar bears, the Esquimaux 
guides with their sledges and dogs, and Captain Ross's 
brave sailors, was good to eat. None of your coloured 
chalk, your cardboard there ! It is pleasant to me 
now, in my sixty-sixth year, to know that I have yet a 
kind friend in the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. 

Another visitor to Cannon Place was a handsome 
lady with flashing eyes and very glossy black hair — a 
Miss Gubbins, an Irish lady, very rich, very clever, and 
very witty; a brilliant musician, and a delightfully 
humorous artist. Long years afterwards I knew her 
as the third wife of the gallant Field-Marshal Viscount 
Combermere, and I was constantly a guest at her house 
in Belgrave Square till she died verging on ninety 
years. Of the three gifted and beautiful daughters of 
Mrs. Thomas Sheridan, I can remember two: — Lady 
DuflFerin, who died Countess of Gifford, and the Hon. 
Caroline Norton. Of Lady Seymour, the " Queen of 
Beauty" of the Eglinton Tournament, afterwards 
Duchess of Somerset, I have no remembrance. 

The name of another leader of society at Brighton 
occurs to me through a somewhat curious circum- 
stance. This grande dame was a Duchess of Canizzaro, 
who used to give the most splendid entertainments, 
and was, besides, an assiduous patroness of the public 
balls and assemblies. Now, opposite to our residence 
in Cannon Place was the house of the renowned danc- 
ing mistress, Madame Michau. Her first husband had 
been a M. Bizet, originally one of the private secre- 
taries of Napoleon the Great; and at his death she 
married a French gentleman named Michau, who was 
especially distinguished for his highly cultivated gas- 



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26 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

tronomic taste and his skilled culinary capacity. In- 
deed, in addition to his connection with the Terpsi- 
chorean art, he was a cook of the first water. The 
Michau family and my own were on terms of the 
closest intimacy. Unfortunately their nocturnal 
gatherings — which by the way were crowned with most 
recherchi suppers — did not end until very late in the 
night, and their late hours were, to me, often a source 
of much anguish ; since, as I was a precocious boy, dear 
old Madame Michau was always pressing piy mother 
to lend me to her to pass the evening with her guests. 

" Lending me out,** when it was conceded, was to 
me a matter of unmitigated delight ; but it involved 
my being brought home by my nurse at midnight — the 
poor woman could only plead that she had been kept 
waiting ever since eleven — ^and my tardy return to the 
parental circle was productive of dire woes, both mental 
and physical. Whenever, however, I was privileged to 
pass the evening with the Michaus, I was in a kind of 
terrestrial paradise. Madame, who albeit, short in 
stature and somewhat pursy, was a model of grace and 
refinement in manner, and had been over and over 
again complimented on her gracefulness by George IV. 
Her eldest daughter, Sophie Bizet, married a son of the 
celebrated historical painter. Baron Le Thifere, who, 
under the First Empire was Director of the French 
Academy at Rome ; and she had a daughter, who still 
lives to be admired and respected by the members of 
that dramatic profession which she has for some years 
past adorned. I mean. Miss Roma Guillon Le Thifere 
who, although she is much my junior, was my playmate 
in childhood, and who was one of the loveliest young 
girls I ever saw. 

Madame Michau had another daughter named 
Louise; and this young lady married a Mr. Davis, 
against whom nothing more could be said than that at 



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BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 2/ 

one time he had been an auctioneer in London, and that 
he was the son of one of the officers of the Sheriffs of 
London and Middlesex. To Mr. and Mrs. Davis the 
Duchess of Canizzaro presented tickets for the Master 
of the Ceremonies' annual ball — a. festival which, I think, 
was held at the Old Ship Assembly Rooms. In any 
case, when they presented themselves at the portal of 
the halls of dazzling light, they were refused admission 
by the Master of the Ceremonies himself, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Eld, A day or two afterwards Mr. Davis met 
Colonel Eld in North Street, and, as Artemus Ward 
would have put it, there was " a fite." The end of the 
affair was, I believe, that the parties were bound over 
at the Town Hall to keep the peace. I only mention 
the fracas as a commentary on what, for many of my 
readers, would appear so much ancient history, and 
that of the most moss-covered of the kind. We have 
no Master of Ceremonies at our watering-places now ; 
but such functionaries, when 1 was a boy, flourished 
not only at Brighton and Hastings, but at Bath, at 
Cheltenham, and at other places of fashionable resort. 
There may be some slight amplification in the character 
of Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esq., M.C., who figures in 
the Bath episode in the " Pickwick Papers ; " but on the 
whole the main lines of the character are true to life. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Eld was no fop, but a gentleman of 
rather dignified manners ; and I should say that no man 
ever possessed with greater finish and refinement of 
manner the art of pocketing the guineas which were 
handed to him by visitors who wished to enter society 
when they came to Brighton for the winter season. 

In addition to her annual concert in London, my 
mother used to have a yearly musical recital at 
Brighton, either just before Christmas or just before 
Easter. She always took care to engage the brightest 
musical talent, both vocal and instrumental, that she 



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28 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

could possibly secure. Sometimes she had to pay the 
great artistes whom she eng^ed, but in a great many 
more instances they generally gave their services quite 
gratuitously to the poor widowed gentlewoman with 
the five children, " clamouring," as Lady Combermere 
used to tell me in after years, " for large slices of roast 
mutton." For one of her concerts my mother had had 
the hardihood to engage the greatest cantatrice of the 
day, and perhaps of this century — Marie F61icie Mali- 
bran, the daughter of the famous Spanish tenor, Manuel 
Garcia. To show the diflFerence that existed between 
artistic remuneration in 1835 and that which now pre- 
vails, it will be sufficient to say that Malibran*s fee was 
only thirty guineas. Paganini, the mere announce- 
ment of whose name was sufficient to sell half the 
tickets for the concert, consented to play a solo for fifty 
guineas ; but my parent nourished the fond hope that 
one or perhaps both artistes would waive their rights 
and decline to take the money which she offered. All 
kinds of extraordinary stories were at that time related 
about Paganini, who, as you know, used to electrify his 
audiences by executing a concerto on one string of his 
violin ; and the legend in connection with this single- 
string tour de force was that in bygone years he had 
assassinated one of his mistresses and had been con- 
demned to five years' imprisonment. A compassionate 
gaoler had allowed him the use of his fiddle in order to 
solace the dreariness of his captivity ; but for fear lest 
the prisoner should knot the catguts together and hang 
himself, he only allowed him the fourth string of the 
violin on which he succeeded at last in phenomenally 
scraping. 

The concert duly took place and was a brilliant suc- 
cess, both from a fashionable and a pecuniary point of 
view ; but then came the ordeal of settling with the 
artistes. Many of them, as was their wont, laughingly 



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BRIGHTON IN THE OLDEN TIMES 29 

I 

refused to take a shilling. That was, I remember, in 
particular the case with a charming vocalist, Mrs. 
Bishop, the wife of the tuneful composer of whom I 
spoke just now. Sir Henry R. Bishop. Then came the 
more formidable question of the claims of Malibran and 
Paganini. My mother, a lady of great sagacity and 
fertility of resource, thought that something might 
be done in the way of exciting a lenitive influence in 
the minds of the two great musicians if she took me 
with her when she called to pay her dues. So I was 
duly washed, and waxed, and polished up — I believe, 
even, that my hair was curled — ^and in a new " skele- 
ton " suit and a very large white cambric collar and a 
frill round it, I was taken, first to the hotel — I forget 
its name — where Malibran was staying. The renowned 
singer smiled, patted me on the head, chucked me 
under the chin, told me to be a good boy, and very 
calmly took the thirty-one pounds ten shillings which 
with trembling hands my mother placed on the table. 

She had a good cry, poor woman, in the fly which 
conveyed us to the Old Ship, where Paganini was 
stopping. I can see him now — a lean, wan, gaunt man 
in black, with bushy hair — something like Henri 
Rochefort, and a great deal more like Henry Irving. 
He looked at me long and earnestly ; and somehow, 
although he was about as weird a looking creature as 
could well be imagined, I did not feel afraid of him. 
In a few broken words my mother explained her mis- 
sion, and put down the fifty guineas on the table. 
When I say that he washed his hands in the gold — 
that he scrabbled at it, as David of old did at the gate 
— and grasped it and built it up into little heaps, pant- 
ing the while, I am not in any way exaggerating. He 
bundled it up at last in a blue cotton pocket-handker- 
chief with white spots, and darted from the room. 
And we — my poor mother convulsively clasping my 



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30 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

hand — ^went out on the landing and were about de- 
scending the stairs when the mighty violinist bolted 
again from his bedroom-door. " Take that, little boy," 
he said ; " take that," and he thrust a piece of paper, 
rolled up almost into a ball, into my hand. It was a 
bank-note for fifty pounds I 



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CHAPTER IV 

IN TOWN, 1836-1839 

Needless to say that I did not keep a diary in the 
thirties, although it was at a sufficiently early age that 
I began a practice, in favour of which and against 
which there is a great deal to be said. I have called 
this chapter " In Town," to distinguish it from those in 
which I have recorded my youthful experiences at 
Brighton ; but in strict accuracy I should say that the 
portions of the years which we spent away from the 
queen of watering-places were passed either in and 
about Regent Street, London, or else at temporary 
summer villeggiature at Clapham, at Richmond, and at 
Kilburn. Prior to the dark age in my childhood, my 
mother had a large house in North Audley Street; 
and at a very remote period of my nonage, to which I 
am wholly unable to affix a date, we had a delightful 
country cottage at Cricklewood, then a sequestered 
village, but which, I suppose, by this time has alto- 
gether passed into the semi-detached villa stage of 
existence. Our house, I think, was called " The Elms." 

I preserve orily two mind-pictures of our life at 
Cricklewood : first, there were frequent performances 
of private theatricals: the stage being in the back 
drawing-room and the auditorium in the front ; and 
between the acts of one of the dramas presented, a Mr. 
Rippamonti — ^from his name, I should say, an Italian, 
but who swore with wonderful fluency in English — 
played the overture to Der Freischiitz on his chin. 

By-the-bye, my mother, prior to her widowhood, 



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32 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

had known Karl Maria Friedrich August von Weber 
during his visit to England in 1826. He was a frequent 
visitor at our house in New Street, Manchester Square ; 
and in that scrap-book of which I spoke in a preceding 
chapter, I have a water-colour drawing of the illustri- 
ous German composer in a grey dressing-gown, sitting 
in a large pink and white-striped covered fauteuil, his 
head sunk on his breast, and looking desperately ill. 
Beneath is the inscription, " Alas, poor Karl Maria ! " 
The great musician died, indeed, in London of con- 
sumption, on the 5th of June, in the year just named. 
I have no positive knowledge as to who was the artist 
of this touching little sketch ; but I have an idea that 
it came from the pencil of young Charles James Ma- 
thews, the son of the famous comedian and mimic, 
Charles Mathews, who was himself destined to become 
an actor of the highest repute. I am strengthened in 
this belief every time I pass through the corridor lead- 
ing from the hall to the strangers' coffee-room on the 
ground-floor of the Garrick Club. One side of that 
corridor is occupied by a series of water-colour por- 
traits, executed by Charles James Mathews of himself 
in the multitudinous stage-characters which he had 
impersonated during his long and brilliant dramatic 
career ; and in many of these aquarelles I seem to rec- 
ognise the light touch and the bright colour of the 
anonymous artist who drew that mournful sketch of 
the composer of Der Freischiitz^ Euryanthe^ and Oberon. 
But there is only one step from the sublime to the 
ridiculous. Over and against the sorrowful present- 
ment of the dying musician, I find a drawing by the 
same hand of a corpulent female cook, holding in one 
hand an open volume, and with the other staunching 
with her apron the tears which are abundantly flowing 
down her rubicund cheeks. The title of this drawing 
is, " A Student of Goethe," and, beneath, Mrs. Cook is 



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IN TOWN, 1836-1839 33 

made to say, " Oh, Charlotte, Charlotte ! Oh, Werther. 
Werther ! — I must go and skin those d— d eels." 
Pardon the introduction of the big D. The initial has 
not, I believe, been very indignantly resented by the 
patrons and patronesses of the Savoy Theatre; but, 
passing from the artistic and literary fiction to fact, it 
may not be inexpedient to hint that prior to the acces- 
sion of Her Most Gracious Majesty, and even for a 
few years after that happy event, the use of strong lan- 
guage was pretty common even in the most exalted 
circles of society : in fact, large numbers of English 
noblemen were in the habit of swearing as liberally as, 
according to Corporal Trim, the Duke of Marlbor- 
ough's army swore in Flanders. 

You may say that I have wandered a very long way 
from Cricklewood. To be sure, it has been my busi- 
ness to wander during ever so many years of my 
journalistic career ; still I have always striven to be a 
conscientious tramp, and to fulfil all the engagements 
which I have entered into; and consequently I am 
bound to place on record the fact that my second and 
last memory of Cricklewood is associated with the vil- 
lage inn, which bore the sign of The Crown — a most 
palatial establishment at this time of writing, I have no 
doubt — and its potman, a middle-aged black man with 
a wooden leg. He had been at the battle of Waterloo 
— ^that was quite enough to make him a hero and al- 
most a demi-god in my eyes — although at that combat 
of giants he had only acted in the non-combatant ca- 
pacity of cymbal-player in one of the regiments of Foot 
Guards. Perhaps he had lost his leg from a stray shot 
while carrying wounded to the rear. In any case he 
had got his Waterloo medal, which, having a partiality 
for rum, he was continually pawning ; and my mother 
was periodically solicited to take the silver emblem of 
glory out of tribulation. 
3 



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34 LIPE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Honest black man ! I can see him now stumping 
along on his timber limb, and over his shoulder, held 
by a stout leathern strap, his sheaf of pewter pots, glanc- 
ing brilliantly in the sunshine — ^as brilliantly as the 
Waterloo medal on his breast, at all events when that 
decoration did not happen to be in the keeping of Mine 
Uncle. When did the black cymbal-player fade out 
of the Household Brigade ? I mind him well over and 
over again when I was a boy, and very fond of attend- 
ing the ceremonial of mounting guard in the court- 
yard of St. James's Palace ; and there was a peculiar- 
ity in the uniform of the dasher of the silver discs 
which always enchained my juvenile attention. It 
was a complicated scroll pattern in golden embroidery 
on the back part of his pantaloons ; a similar ornamen- 
tation I noticed long years afterwards in connection 
with the nether garments of a regiment of Magyar 
Hussars ; but the old scroll pattern in gold had a dis- 
tinctive name in British military technology. It was 
known — so an officer in the Scots Fusilier Guards told 
me in Canada in 1864 — as "the dicky-strap," a term 
which had some reference, I conjecture, to the straps 
by which the powdered footmen of the nobility and 
gentry used to hold on to the hinder parts of their em- 
ployers' equipages. 

In the four years between 1835 and 1839 we led a 
continuously busy life during the London season. I 
say " we " because I was not sent to school ; although 
I was kept with rigorous severity to home-lessons, be- 
cause I had no boys of my own age with whom I 
could play, and because, when I was not learning my 
book, I was almost constantly in the society of my el- 
ders, to whom I was allowed to listen as attentively as 
I pleased, although, as a rule, I was sharply rebuked 
if I spoke without being spoken to. My mother was 
generally engaged in teaching singing from eleven in 



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IN TOWN, 1836-1839 35 

the morning until four in the afternoon, and it very 
often happened that the parents of her pupils did not 
object to her taking me with her. A comical sight I 
must have presented ; a little round-headed urchin 
with a wall eye, clad in that *.' skeleton " suit with an 
immense frill, sitting bolt upright in a big easy chair 
and listening with all my might to the vocal music of 
which I have always been so passionately fond. The 
pianoforte I have always steadily hated, although 
I have heard such wondrous performers on it as 
Thalberg, Lis2t, and Madame Pleyel. 1 regard the 
piano as a heartless, soulless instrument ; I care little 
more for the flute ; while for the cornet k piston or 
the oboe I care no more than I do for an Oriental 
tam-tam, but the violin, when played by a consum- 
mate artist, has never failed to ravish my senses with 
delight. 

Unbidden, but never unwelcome, return the melo- 
dies which I learnt with the ears of my heart in child- 
hood ; often, I suspect, when I was present at the sing- 
ing lessons given by my mother. " Ruth," " The 
Pilgrim Fathers," " The Burial in the Desert," every 
air in Dan Giovanni, from Leporello's opening " Notte 
giomo faticar " down to the last awful intimation of 
the *' Commendatore " that he has come to sup with 
the libertine ; nearly all the songs in Robert le Diable^ 
that sparkling French ditty "Les Compliments de 
Normandie," the brightest lyrical gems from the Puru 
taniy Fidelio, Anna Bolena, and the Elisire d' Amove; 
Haydn's " My Mother Bids Me Bind My Hair," and 
such sweet homely English ballads as " Farewell to the 
Mountain," " Through the Wood," and " She Wore a 
Wreath of Roses," each recurs to me; although, of 
course, I cannot precisely remember when or where I 
first heard these enchanting lyrics. 

One house I remember particularly to which I was 



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36 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

often taken when my miCher gave her lessons. It 
was a handsome mansion, splendidly furnished, in 
Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, close, if indeed not 
immediately contiguous to Meux's brewery at the 
south-eastern corner of Tottenham Court Road ; and, 
indeed, it was to the female members of the family of 
Sir Henry Meux that my mother gave vocal instruc- 
tion. Imagine a wealthy London brewer of the pres- 
ent day living next door to his brewery ! He would, 
in all probability, be the occupant of some towering 
mansion in Belgravia or Tyburnia, besides being the 
proprietor of a lordly estate in the Shires and the 
renter of grouse moors in Yorkshire, and deer forests 
in the Highlands. But times have changed with a 
vengeance. Mr. and Mrs. Thrale resided in a house 
in Deadman's Place, Southwark, adjoining their brew- 
ery until they removed to the more fashionable local- 
ity of Grosvenor Square. 

I was not so lucky as a child to go to Grosvenor 
House when my mother gave lessons in the family of 
the then Marquis of Westminster ; but there is a little 
story of an adventure which once happened to her in 
connection with the mansion in question — a story 
which has more than once got into print, but which I 
wish accurately to repeat because I wish this, the ear- 
liest portion of my autobiography, to be considered 
as a kind of tribute to the memory of one whom I 
loved and reverenced so deeply. She had given a les- 
son at Westminster House one broiling forenoon in 
July. It was one of those London summer days when 
the very pavement seems to shimmer and radiate with 
caloric, and when you cannot resist the impression 
that the bricks in the house-fronts are panting and ex- 
panding with the heat, and will speedily crack and 
burst out of their bonds of mortar. There was my 
mother in the open street, and she really panting and 



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IN TOWN, 1 836-1 839 37 

palpitating with the heat. She was, moreover, intol- 
erably, agonisingly thirsty. There were no drinking- 
fountains in London in those days. There were no 
tastily decorated dairies where glasses of iced milk 
could be procured. It did not occur to her that if she 
only crossed Park Lane she could get some curds and 
whey. Her destination lay in the east, and it was even 
a very long way to Verrey's, in Regent Street, where 
she could have quenched her thirst with an ice or 
a sorbet. She did not even light upon a chemist's 
where she could have procured soda or seltzer-wat- 
er ; so the poor dear gentlewoman went sadly on, her 
throat and tongue desiccated and parched with 
drought. 

And at a certain street corner she caught sight of a 
public-house — not an hotel nor a caf6, if you please, but 
a downright, unmistakable " pub " with a row of 
gleaming pewter pots on the railings outside, and the 
doors giving on both thoroughfares, standing invit- 
ingly open and revealing the sanded floor within, and 
in the umbrageous background a pewter -covered 
counter, with a trim barmaid presiding at a beer- 
engine, with rows of casks and kegs behind her. My 
mother was the most temperate of mortals ; but she 
was human, and she was so unutterably thirsty ! She 
looked furtively to the right and to the left ; and the 
coast seeming clear she darted into the Half Moon 
and Seven Stars, or the Coach and Horses, or what- 
ever may have been the sign of the tavern, and ad- 
dressed the trim barmaid thus : " Half a pint of por- 
ter, Miss, if you please." The attendant Hebe handed 
her the beer in a pewter measure ; and over and over 
again has my dear mother described to me the deli- 
cious sensation of the nut-brown foam first coming in 
contact with her lips, and of the greater joys she ex- 
perienced as she drained the fermented decoction of 



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38 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

malt and hops — not to the dregs, for pure beer has no 
dregs, but to the very last drop, when she could read 
what was popularly known at the time as " Grimes's 
card," Grimes being a highly respectable manufacturer 
of pewter vessels who had his name stamped inside the 
bottoms of his measures. A good old Saxon name 
Grimes ; although to stuck-up-end-of-the^entury peo- 
ple it may seem a plebeian designation. In New Eng- 
land it is a patrician name. I remember once hear- 
ing of a great American beauty and heiress whose 
name was Zenobia Grimes ; and I am glad to see in 
the Post OflSce London Directory for 1894, that the 
historic house of Grimes is extant as pewterers at 
Islington. 

My mother had imbibed her half-pint of porter in 
one sustained and solemn draught, and she was happy. 
With feminine astuteness she thought that it might be 
politic to leave the " pub " by a different door from 
that by which she had entered. She emerged into the 
side street ; and there to her shame, her horror, and 
her unutterable confusion she nearly ran up against 
Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, Prince of 
Waterloo, Marquis of Douro, K.G., Chancellor of the 
University of Oxford — but how can I enumerate all 
the rungs in the ladder of glory which Arthur Welles- 
ley made for himself with his sword for a saw ? The 
Hero of Waterloo was in his every-day attire — well- 
polished, well-blocked hat with a narrow brim ; single- 
breasted blue surtout ; white cravat without a bow, and 
fastened behind by a silver buckle ; white waistcoat 
and white trousers — which he wore winter and summer, 
the trousers strapped tightly over varnished boots. 
How often have 1 seen the Great Captain of the Age 
in his old, old age riding in the forenoon from Apsley 
House along Constitution Hill to fulfil his official 
duties at the Horse Guards, and closely followed by a 



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IN TOWN, 1836-1839 39 

thoughtful, middle-aged groom, who watched his mas- 
ter as a cat watches a mouse ; for the Duke, when he 
had passed fourscore years, used to sway and swerve 
in his saddle to such an extent that you dreaded lest at 
the next moment he would fall off. Fortunately it was 
for him as it is for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the line 
of direction from the centre of gravity fell within the 
base and the Duke kept his saddle. 

Not so fortunate for my mother was it that the vic- 
tor of Napoleon was on that particular sultry July day 
on foot and not on horseback. He knew my mother 
very well, and saying curtly, " How do, Madame Sala 
— that's the way you do it; — public-house, hey?** 
nodded her a salute and passed on. The next evening 
my mother was at a rout at Devonshire House, and in 
a great crush of guests on the grand staircase she met 
the Duke in his full field-marshal's uniform, wearing 
his riband of the Garter and his breast ablaze with 
stars and crosses. He laughingly accosted her ; and 
when in a few pathetic sentences she told him the 
story of the half-pint of porter he laughed again and 
said, " Very good — very hot day — ^just the thing — half 
a pint of porter — should have had one myself if I 
hadn't been so close to Apsley House." 

Five or six years after this incident my mother and 
I were walking down Snargate Street, Dover, when 
we met the Duke, who was then in residence at Wal- 
mer Castle as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, lean- 
ing on the arm of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, afterwards 
Lord Raglan. I do not think that his Grace said any- 
thing about that pewter measure full of Somebody and 
Co.'s Entire ; but I know that he patted me on the head 
and hoped that I was good to my mother. 1 have said 
over and over again, and I repeat it, that I firmly be- 
lieve in Fate, in Necessity, in the Imperatively Indis- 
pensable, in that ANATKH which, so Victor Hugo 



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40 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

tells US, was the text on which he wrote his romance of 
" Notre Dame de Paris." Fate decreed that the great 
Duke of Wellington — you will see why and how, later 
on — should be unconsciously the direct cause of my 
adopting the profession of journalism. 



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CHAPTER V 

SOME OF MY MOTHER'S FRIENDS 

A LONG panorama stretches before my mind of the 
famous people who used to visit my mother in 1835- 
36. Donizetti, the composer of Lucia di Lammermoar 
and a host of other tuneful operas I am not quite cer- 
tain of having ever seen ; but he was in London during 
one or both of the years just named, and I am tolerably 
certain that my mother knew him, since she has often 
described him to me as a strange, absent, wistfuUook- 
ing man with his hat always very far back on his head ; 
and that account exactly corresponded with the one 
afterwards given me by Madame Puzzi, the wife of the 
celebrated harpist, who knew the composer intimately. 
I suppose that I must not call him a great one, and 
that such operas as Marino FalierOy La Favorita^ Don 
Pasqualcy are only " tuney " productions, sparkling, it 
is true, with melody, but quite destitute of Wagnerian 
erudition. It is certain that he wrote a great deal too 
much, and that he eventually succumbed to paralysis 
of the brain. I remember reading that he was for 
some time an inmate of a maison de santi in the Avenue 
Chateaubriand, Paris, and that he used to sit all day by 
the fire wrapped in a large cloak — and possibly with his 
hat at the back of his head — and mechanically mur- 
muring, " Don Sebastian, Don Sebastian ! " This was 
the title of one of his latest operas which had been 
somewhat harshly treated by the musical critics. It 
was not, however, in Paris that he died. He was 
taken back to his native Bergamo, where he passed 



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42 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

away at scarcely more than fifty years of age. I be- 
lieve he had a brother, or at all events a near kinsman, 
who was leader of the private band of the Sultan Mah- 
moud of Turkey. 

They used to tell a droll story at Constantinople of 
the Padishah and his bandmaster. Mahmoud was the 
first Sultan who seriously set himself to the task of in- 
troducing European reforms into his empire. His 
predecessor, Selim, had endeavoured to bring about 
such changes, but was assassinated for his pains. Sul- 
tan Mahmoud got rid of the janissaries by the same 
rough-and-ready process adopted by Peter the Great 
when he wished to free himself from the Strelitzes, 
and by Mehemet Ali when he thought that he could 
dispense with the services of the Mamelukes — ^namely, 
by massacring them to the last man. Then, having 
reorganised his army on the European model, the en- 
terprising Sultan Mahmoud compelled his pachas to 
relinquish their turbans, their beards, and their flow- 
ing robes for black frock-coats and red fezzes. He en- 
couraged a French manager to open a theatre for the 
performance of opera and bSUet at Pera ; and for his 
own private delectation he imported an orchestra of 
musicians from Italy, and conferred the conductorship 
on Signor Donizetti, as aforesaid. 

The first performance of the Sultan's band was a 
very grand function. It took place in one of the larg- 
est saloons of the palace ; and a contingent of the la- 
dies of the harem were privileged to listen to the con- 
course of Iswect sounds through a gilt grille or perfo- 
rated screen. The band played melody after melody 
from Rossini, Auber, Meyerbeer, and Donizetti himself. 
They played marches, fantasias, and galops, but their 
eflForts only drew from the Commander of the Faithful 
a series of dissatisfied yawns and grunts, eventually 
followed by unmistakable symptoms of a disposition 



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SOME OF MY MOTHER'S FRIENDS 43 

on the part of his Imperial Majesty to sleep and eke 
to snore. Then there was a brief recess, during which 
the musicians proceeded to tune up their instruments. 
The Sultan started from his divan in an ecstasy of 
delight, and clapped his hands with glee. '' Mashal- 
lah ! " he cried, " that is grand, that is superb. Let the 
Giaours play t/tat tune over again'' Well, there is no 
accounting for tastes. Was not George the First 
extremely partial to bad oysters ? 

Bellini, the composer of the Puritaniy of Norma^ and 
of the Sonnambula^ I am certain that I saw once at my 
mother's house ; but it must have been very early in 
1835, since in September of that year he died, aged 
only twenty -nine, at Puteaux, near Paris. He was 
buried in the cemetery of P6re-la-Chaise, and the fu- 
neral mass was celebrated before an immense congre- 
gation of distinguished people in the church of the In- 
valides, Paris. It had been intended to perform the 
grand funeral mass of Cherubini, but for some reason 
or another the ecclesiastical authorities interiered to 
prevent this periormance ; and the musical part of the 
service consisted only of the awful Dies IrcBy superbly 
executed by Lablache, Tamburini, Ivanoff, and others. 
We shall meet with these great artistes at a later stage 
of this book.* 

* Cherubini, the severely classical composer, whom Napoleon the Great had 
a strange aversion to. although he was fain to acknowledge his great attain- 
ments, was director of the Royal Conservatoire of Music during the Restora^ 
tion, and gained a not very enviable reputation for the harshness and brusquerie 
with which he habitually treated the pupils and even the professors. Among 
the pupils was the well-known Hector Berlioz, and on someone remarking to 
Cherubini that Berlios did not like the fugue, replied pithily, " And the fugue 
does not like Berliox." His general reply to any kind of solicitation was a gruff 
and emphatic " No/' and in connection with these chronic negatives an amus- 
ing anecdote is told. A young tenor-singer, whose misfortune it was to be 
hideously ugly, waited on the Director one day and asked to be allowed to give 
him a specimen of his vocal powers. For a wonder his application was met by 
a sulky nod of acquiescence. He sang, and wmtg superbly. There came an- 
other nod, accompanied by something like a snort of satisfaction. Then came 



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44 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

My remembrance of Bellini is of a very young man 
with long auburn hair and large blue eyes, reclining 
on the carpet with his head on the cushion of an arm- 
chair, while my mother, at the piano, was playing and 
singing in her sweet mezzo-soprano voice the immor- 
tal " Che faro senza Euridice " from Gluck's Orfeo. 
During the season, when I am in town, I never see 
Orfeo advertised for performance but I hasten to the 
Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, to listen once 
more to the bewitching lyric, rendered all the more 
enchanting since it has been sung by that consummate 
cantatrice and our dear friend, Giulia Ravogli ; but in 
addition to the delight which I derive from the song 
and the singer, " Che Faro " always brings back the 
bright phantom of Bellini and my mother. He must 
have been, I should say, a beautiful man, even as John- 
son churlishly admits Milton to have been beautiful in 
his youth ; and I hold that on the whole children re- 
member the beautiful much more vividly than they do 
the ugly. Ugliness frightens them, and they do not 
wish to recall the terrible. 

My mother went very much into society at this 
period ; and on rare occasions — as a small boy with an 
already well-stored memory, and with a certain capacity 
for reciting from Shakespeare, Molifere, and Racine — 
I was permitted to accompany her to the mansions of 
the proud. I remember in particular being taken one 
evening to a reception at Gore House, Kensington, 
the residence of the Countess of Blessington, a mansion 
of which I shall have to say a good deal in the course 

a pause, which after a minute or so was broken by the youthful artiste asking, 
in faltering accents, whether he might eventually hope for an engagement at the 

Grand opera. "No I" thundered the Director. " But M. Cherubini ." 

" Not " The disconsolate artiste was slowly departing when Cherubini rose, 
took him by both arms, and looked him fiilly in the face. " I am sorry," he 
said, " very sorry ; but, man cker, do you think that the Opera could get up a 
company of ourang-outangs to sing with you ? " 



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SOME OF MY mother's FRIENDS 45 

of this work. I think that, on the evening in question, 
there were present, among others, Daniel Maclise the 
painter and Harrison Ainsworth the novelist. The 
author of " Jack Sheppard " was then a young man of 
about thirty, very handsome, but of somewhat the 
curled and oiled and glossy-whiskered D'Orsay type. 
The king of dandies was not present on the evening 
when I went to Gore House ; so that it is at second- 
hand that I tell the anecdote of Lady Blessington 
placing herself on the hearthrug between D'Orsay and 
Harrison Ainsworth, and saying that she had for sup- 
porters the two handsomest men in London. Her 
ladyship herself was an exceedingly comely dame, 
who used to make up somewhat like Mrs. Siddons as 
Queen Katharine in Henry VIILy particularly with 
respect to a band of lace or cambric which she wore 
passing under her chin from one temple to another. 
Great stateliness of mien, as well as beauty of features, 
are requisite to make such an accessory to costume 
attractive, or even tolerable ; but to the majority of 
ladies in these days, the Siddons or Blessington band 
might present unpleasant associations with the toilette 
of the tomb. 

One of the guests at Gore House was a personage 
whom I was destined to meet very often afterwards in 
active life. A short, slight form he had, and not a 
very graceful way of standing. His complexion was 
swarthily pale, if I may be allowed to make use of that 
somewhat paradoxical expression. His hair struck me 
as being of a dark brown ; it was much lighter in after 
years; and while his cheeks were clean-shaven the 
lower part of his face was concealed by a thick mous- 
tache and an imperial or chin-tuft. He was gorgeously 
arrayed in the dandy evening costume of the period — 
a costume which to some up-to-date critics might seem 
preposterous, but which others, comprising, I should 



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46 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

say, Mr. Oscar Wilde, might deem handsome and 
tasteful and worthy of revival. However, I may have 
to say a good deal about the dandies of the past before 
I finish my first volume, so I will only note one item 
in the evening dress of the dandy with the big brown 
moustache and imperial whom I saw at Gore House. 
He wore a satin " stock," green, if I am not mistaken ; 
and in the centre of that stock was a breast-pin in the 
image of a gold eagle encircled with diamonds. I am 
trying to be throughout these pages as strictly accu- 
rate as ever I possibly can, but I am not prepared to de- 
dare with certainty whether the eagle in the young gen- 
tleman's stock had closed or outspread wings. They 
should properly have been closed, since the bird of 
Jove with outspread wings is the cognisance of Prussia, 
of Russia, and of the United States ; whereas the eagle 
with the closed wings was borrowed from the Roman 
standards to be the emblem of Imperial France ; and the 
young gentleman with the satin stock and the diamond 
breast-pin was none other than Prince Louis Napo- 
leon Bonaparte, pretender to the throne of France. It 
must have been shortly before or shortly after his mad- 
cap escapade at Strassburg that I first saw the Prince. 
Was Theodore Hook, I often ask myself, one of the 
guests at Gore House? I asked myself again the 
question in one of the empty saloons of the mansion in 
1850, just when it was about to be swept, and gar- 
nished, and decorated as a restaurant by Alexis Soyer, 
the renowned chef of the Reform Club. Never mind ! 
I know that Theodore often used to visit my mother, 
and I used to experience much boyish delight from 
seeing, from our first-floor balcony in the Quadrant, 
the witty author of " Gilbert Gurney ** alight from his 
cabriolet and hand the reins to his Tiger Tim, who had 
just jumped down from his footboard behind the equi- 
page. He was the real Tom Ingoldsby Tiger Tim, 



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SOME OF MY mother's FRIENDS 47 

" tallest of boys and shortest of men." Theodore Hook 
was then a portly middle-aged gentleman, but who 
still managed to keep something of a waist within the 
confines of his tightly-buttoned frock-coat. He was 
very rubicund of countenance, and had, perhaps, the 
closest and bushiest of whiskers that I can remember 
to have seen. I have heard him sing and play in our 
drawing-room ; and it was simply bliss to an intelligent 
and observing child to listen to his beauparler^ his flow 
of brilliant, witty, but not cynical talk. 

Thomas Moore the poet I never beheld in the flesh, 
although, of course, my mother often met him at 
Lansdowne House, and at other great mansions in 
town or in the country. I saw Thomas Campbell, 
author of " The Pleasures of Hope," " Ye Mariners of 
England," and " The Last Man," onl}^ once. He was 
pointed out to me in the Mall of St. James' Park by 
my eldest brother Frederick. A trim, dapper little 
man was Mr. Thomas Campbell, with a large shirt- 
collar, a tail-coat, striped pantaloons, and shoes with 
silk bows. Had gaiters been substituted for these, he 
would not have been at all unlike one of Seymour's 
Cockney sportsmen. Haynes Bayly, on the other 
hand, novelist, poet, and song-writer, was an intimate 
friend. I remember that he used to sing a song called 
"Out, John, Out, John, What Are You About, 
John?" and another most humorous ditty entitled 
" A Gent in Diffs." As a matter of fact, he had not 
long before been a gentleman in difliculties himself ; 
since, having spent a considerable fortune derived 
from his father, a prosperous solicitor of Bath, he had 
been fain, under the pressure of writs of " ca. sa." and 
" fi. fa.," to take refuge in the tents of Kedar, that is to 
say, at Calais or Boulogne. But in 1835-36 he had 
come to the surface again. He, too, was a dandy and 
a cultured, high-minded gentleman to boot 



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48 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

I spoke of Marie Malibran in my last chapter ; but 
I have now to revert to that gifted songstress in con- 
nection with one of the first operas I ever saw at the 
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. This was the Maid of 
Artoisy in which the part of the heroine was sung by 
Malibran. The composer was Michael William Balfe, 
with whom and his wife and family we afterwards be- 
came closely intimate. Balfe, throughout his career 
as a composer, was subjected to a great deal of ad- 
verse criticism ; and in the criticisms of the Maid of 
Artois he was very roughly treated in the newspapers. 
One genial scribe observed that the instrumentation 
from first to last was a continual clatter of drums, 
cymbals, trumpets, horns, and trombones. " For these 
instruments," added the kindly critic, " Mr. Balfe has 
a special predilection ; and as if they were not suffi- 
cient, he has added an enormous ophicleide to the 
band which absolutely blows one out of the house." 
Nor was the censor much more courteous to Mali- 
bran, whose acting, he observed, was so turbulent as 
to cause her to be " completely blown," and to render 
her singing " a tissue of melodious screams." 

My own most distinct remembrance of the Maid of 
Artois is that the superb singing and acting of Mali- 
bran nearly sent me wild with delighted excitement. 
There was a chorus, too, called " Vive le Roi," which 
still dwells in my mind from the amusing circum- 
stance that the chorus singers shouted at the top of 
their voices " Vive le Raw'' This also affords an il- 
lustration of how in some cases one's memory may be 
abnormally retentive. I happened to tell this " Vive 
le Raw " anecdote in print not long ago, when up 
started an obliging soul — there are still obliging souls 
— who gravely doubted the truth of my assertion, see- 
ing that I was only seven years old when the Maid of 
Artois was first produced. Fortunately for me, a 



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SOME OF MY MOTHER'S FRIENDS 49 

gentleman well over seventy years of age was good 
enough to write to me and inform me that he had a 
clear recollection of the first night of the Maid of Ar- 
tois and of the " Vive le Raw " incident. The tenor 
was Templeton and the basso Henry Phillips, who in 
the second act sang the beautiful ballad " The Light 
of Other Days has Faded," a melody which I sincerely 
hope that posterity has not let die. The words of this 
beautiful song were shortly afterwards mercilessly 
burlesqued in one of Gilbert Abbot k Beckett's bur- 
lesques at the St. James's, as " The Coat of Other 
Days is Faded." 

In October, 1836, Balfe was himself singing at 
Drury Lane in his own opera, The Siege of Rochelle. 
After the opera, a strangely grotesque performance, 
which was intended to be pathetic, took place. It was 
entitled " A Grand Commemoration of the Departed 
Genius of Music, Commencing with a Monody Re- 
cited by Mr. Cooper." John Cooper, commonly 
known as "Jack," was a second-rate tragedian — he 
sometimes played comic parts, however — whom in the 
'forties I recollect very well as playing Henry VIII. to 
Macready's Cardinal Wolsey. He was a careful man ; 
and it was rumoured that in addition to the savings he 
had amassed during his career as an actor, he had 
made a good deal of money in the pig-jobbing line. 
He had a curious intonation, and I can still hear men- 
tally a line of his as Henry VIII. : " What poiles of 
wealth hath he not accumulated." He was the only 
actor, so far as I know, who ventured to address Mr. 
William Charles Macready as " Macready," tout court. 
Cooper had been playing in the broad farce High Life 
Below Stairs ; but he pulled off his red wig, dressed 
himself in evening attire, and with a white handker- 
chief in his hand, stalked on to the stage and delivered 
his lines, which preceded a number of panoramic 
4 



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50 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

views painted by those eminent scenic artists William 
and Thomas Grieve. Thomas Grieve lived long 
enough to paint a portion of the scenery in a bur- 
lesque of my own called Wat Tyler^ which my old 
friend John HoUingshead brought out at the Gaiety 
Theatre at Christmas, 1869. The panoramic views 
concluded with a picture of the Collegiate Church at 
Manchester, wherein was sung the requiem of Mali- 
bran, which proved to be 2i pot-pourri of operatic odds 
and ends, winding up with a finale of Madame Mali- 
bran. The poor Diva had died at Manchester at the 
end of September. 

You will have been enabled to judge from what I 
have already written that, when quite a little boy, I 
was in the habit of keeping what in the present day 
would be considered shockingly late hours for a ju- 
venile. Perhaps you may labour under the impression 
that my childhood was passed in Bohemia. If that 
was really the case it was a most splendid Bohemia ; 
and my mother saw a great deal of the palaces and 
castles of Prague. As regards myself it was a stu- 
dious Bohemia, my studies being varied by seeing and 
hearing all kinds of celebrated people of both sexes, 
and by being very frequently taken to the play. For 
example, it must have been in 1836 that I first saw that 
gifted actress Miss Helen Faucit, who has long been 
the highly esteemed wife of Sir Theodore Martin. 
When she was living at Brompton, in the 'forties, my 
mother gave her " for love " some lessons in French ; 
and at the house where she resided, in Brompton 
Square — it was at the residence of that consummate 
comedian, Mr. William Farren the Elder — I remember 
seeing two spruce young gentlemen in Eton round 
jackets, snowy lay-down collars, and shiny top-hats, 
who, I was told, were the two Masters Farren. It 
makes me feel quite old now to hear of Mr. William 



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SOME OF MY mother's FRIENDS 5 1 

Farren performing at the principal London theatres, 
and renowned as a finished impersonator of old men. 
Of the Irish actor Tyrone Power, I have also, in 1836, 
a lively remembrance from his performance in an ex- 
travaganza called Flanagan and the Fairies^ and in the 
larce of The Irish Tutor. Poor Power, it is well 
known, perished in the full tide of his fame, in the 
ill-fated steamship President. I knew both his sons in 
later years ; the eldest rose to be a commissary-general 
and to be knighted ; the second, Harold Power, was a 
wonderful mimic, and the coadjutor of Edmund Yates, 
in a diverting medley entertainment at the Egyptian 
Hall. 

I am about to enter on a narration of theatrical mat- 
ters on which I shall have to dwell in some detail ; 
but ere I leave Regent Street, in 1836, I have just one 
little item to recall with reference to the notorious 
Fieschi, a morose Corsican, who had been a soldier 
in the Grande ArnUe^ and who had attempted to assas- 
sinate Louis Philippe by firing at him from an upper 
window in the Boulevard du Temple an apparatus of 
gun-barrels fixed in a frame, to which was given, not 
for the first time in French history, the name of the 
Infernal Machine. This bloodthirsty scoundrel, with 
two of his confederates, Pepin and Morey, was ex- 
ecuted in the last week of February, 1836, and the 
execution was witnessed by my still living and flour- 
ishing friend Julius Mayhew, the last of a bright band 
of brothers, the sons of Mr. Joshua Mayhew, a well- 
known London solicitor. The cause cdibre of Fieschi is 
too well known for me even to sketch the outline of his 
history in this place. I am telling what I know, but I 
do not wish to be suspected of padding. Now, what I 
want to say about Fieschi is this : the villainous engi- 
neer of the infernal machine was, to a certain extent, 
hoist by his own petard — that is to say, he was badly 



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52 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

wounded about the head by the explosion of some of 
the barrels of his death-dealing battery. 

In the window of an artist's colourman, by the name 
of Barbe, in the Regent's Quadrant, there was ex- 
hibited — even before the guillotining of the would-be 
regicide — a, wax mask of Fieschi enveloped in blood- 
stained bandages, as he may seem to have appeared 
lying on his pallet in the prison infirmary. The shop 
window with the mask of Fieschi was regularly visited 
by my sister and myself in our morning walks ; nor 
did we fail, while trotting up and down Regent Street, 
to bestow our attention on a shop at the comer of Air 
Street, where there was a grand show of sculpture in 
Carrara marble and alabaster. That fine-art ware- 
house may have disappeared long ago, but the artist- 
colour shop of Lechertier-Barbe — on the left-hand 
side, close to the County Fire Office — continues to be 
a flourishing institution. I used to buy my paints and 
brushes there in 1840. In 1836 I was only a peeper-in, 
but not a customer. I have dreamt of the house at 
intervals ever since. I bought some coni^ crayons 
there last February, and I should say that the house 
of Lechertier-Barbe has few older customers than 
G. A. S. 



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CHAPTER VI 

THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 

It was at the Royal St. James's Theatre that my 
mother resolved to return to the stage and essay her 
fortune, not exclusively as a singer, but as an actress. 
The St. James's had been built in 1835, from a design 
by Beazley for the celebrated English tenor, John 
Braham, then about sixty years of age, whom my 
mother had known ever since the Waterloo time. 
Braham, as I remember him, was rather a short, 
stumpy gentleman with a pronounced Jewish physiog- 
nomy, and, if I am not mistaken, a rather gruff-speak- 
ing voice. The St. James's was built at a cost of ;f 26,. 
000, on the site of a very well-known — and, indeed, 
historic — hostelry called Nerot's Hotel. The original 
Nerot is said to have been a French cook, who came 
to England in the reign of Charles II. ; but I cannot 
find any mention of him either in Pepys, in Peter 
Cunningham, or in Wheatley. Old Nerot's had a 
large heavy staircase, with carved balustrades and 
panelled walls, decorated possibly by Verrio or by 
Laguerre, with mythological paintings of Mars, Bac- 
chus, Apollo, and " Virorum." The front of the hotel 
was pierced with no fewer than twenty-four windows ; 
and I call it historic for the reason that many of Will- 
iam Pitt's early letters to his mother are dated from 
Nerot's, and that it was often the scene of jOvial 
carousals enjoyed by the ^f estive sons of King George 
III.: — William IV., when Duke of Clarence, having a 
special partiality for the place. The St. James's 



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54 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Theatre was opened on the 14th of December, 1835, 
with an original operatic "burletta" by Mr. Gilbert 
Abbot k Beckett, entitled Agnes Sorel, the music being 
by Mrs. k Beckett, whose sister, Miss Glossop, sang in 
the burletta. The laws relating to the drama were 
then in an extremely contradictory and chaotic condi- 
tion. The great patent theatres, Drury Lane and 
Covent Garden, were fighting for their rights as mo- 
nopolists of the legitimate drama, and the rest of the 
theatres were in a continual state of perturbation and 
perplexity as to whether they were infringing the law 
or not. 

In a contemporary account of the opening of the 
St. James's I find the somewhat hyperbolic statement 
that " the house had spf ung up with marvellous rapid- 
ity, but that it presented the most exquisitely perfect 
realisation of a theatre in point of shape, of elegance, 
of richness, of the most fanciful beauty, the truest com- 
forts, and all the more solid advantages of hearing and 
seeing that could possibly be imagined." According to 
the enthusiastic newspaper scribe, it was quite a fairy 
wonder, which had been modelled on the plan of the 
theatre at the Palace at Versailles ; and the writer 
went on to express a hope that even as the sumptuous 
Opera House erected by the Grand Monarque was con- 
stantly filled by the beauty and fashion of France, so 
Braham, in his palatial theatre in King Street, St. 
James's, might find equally magnificent patrons. 

The cast of Agnes Sorel included not only Braham 
and Miss Glossop, but also Morris Barnett and Miss 
P. Horton. The first-named actor was a remarkably 
clever man — a Hebrew of the Hebrews, with a pro- 
nounced musical faculty and extraordinary powers of 
mimicry. These last were curiously illustrated in 
that which was Morris Barnett's most popular and 
most artistic performance — the part of the hero in a 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 55 

little domestic drama called Monsieur Jacques y a trans- 
lation from a French piece entitled Le Pauvre Jacques. 
Barnett had to portray an old and distressed Italian 
musician, vegetating in a mean lodging in England, 
where he is victimised by a rapacious and rascally 
landlord, who, getting the unfortunate maestro into his 
debt, cozens him out of the "scores" of the operas 
which he has composed and passes them off as his own. 
Morris Barnett's broken English was marvellous ; and 
his delivery alternately moved his audiences to laugh- 
ter and to tears. His humorous allusion to his two 
shirts, " Ven von is vets se ozere is dry," used to set 
the house in a roar ; while everybody fairly sobbed at 
the musician's lamentations for the loss of his operas, 
and the exquisite pathos of his ultimate meeting with 
a long-lost daughter and his restoration to wealth and 
happiness. Monsieur Jacques was supposed to have 
been of Sicilian extraction; but Morris Barnett's 
broken English was that, not of an Italian, but of a 
Frenchman. To add to the whimsicality of the thing, 
I may add that his knowledge of French, either literary 
or colloquial, was extremely slight ; and I believe that 
he had gone down to Leicester Square and Soho with 
a systematic course of lessons in broken English from 
some Gallic denizens of the modern Petty France, so 
as to enable him to bring his powers of vocal mimicry 
to bear on the part of the distressed composer. Some 
years afterwards Morris Barnett relinquished the stage 
for the profession of journalism, and was for a long 
time the dramatic critic either of the Morning Herald 
or the Morning Post, 

I have always maintained not only that London, 
about the immensity of which we are continually prat- 
ing, is not such a very big village after all ; and that 
life itself, although it may be a very brief or a very pro- 
tracted drama, does not present to us a very numerous 



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$6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

dra^natis persona. This doubtless heterodox doctrine I 
will illustrate by two little anecdotes touching the 
Barnetts. Morris had a brother named Benjamin, an 
actor, who about 1855 was playing at the Lyceum 
Theatre. He took a benefit at that house, and one 
day came to see me at the office of a little periodical 
which I was editing in a dark passage called Exeter 
'Change, of which I shall have something to say later 
on. The object of " Benj." Barnett's visit was to re- 
mind me of my early acquaintance with his brother, 
and to ask me if I would play the part of the rapacious 
and rascally landlord in Monsieur Jacques^ in which he 
(B. B.) was about to play his brother's rSle. It so hap- 
pened that, although from my earliest youth I had been 
familiar with the world behind the scenes and had ful- 
filled all kinds of theatrical duties, I had never in my 
life trodden the boards of a public stage, although, as 
I will show by-and-by, I had been more than once en- 
gaged in private and school theatricals. But the 
humour of Benjamin Barnett's proposition tickled me ; 
and I acceded to his request : stipulating only that I 
should be announced in the bills as " Mr. William Wat- 
ling, his first and last appearance on any stage." Mr. 
Watling was an eminent manufacturer of pork pies of 
the period, and I hope that he did not think it imper- 
tinent on my part to have temporarily usurped his 
surname. As to the announcement of the appearance 
being my first and last one, I cautiously made it in 
view of the contingency of some spiteful dramatic critic 
saying that I was an extremely bad actor, and that I 
had much better abandon the pursuit of the Thespian 
art. 

And now let me venture upon a brief illustration of 
the Ananke. We only had two rehearsals of Monsieur 
Jacques. Our heroine — the musician's long-lost daugh- 
ter — was a tall, elegant, graceful young actress, Miss 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE $y 

Murray, who was afterwards a member of Charles 
Kean's company at the Princess's and of whom I was 
very fond — fond I mean in a brotherly sense because 
she had been beautifully kind and sympathetic to my 
dear sister Gussy in her last illness. The poor child 
died of consumption in 1849; she was the last of five 
of my sisters who had been carried away by that 
dreadful malady. Now and again during the rehear- 
sals I noticed that Miss Murray was talking to a lady 
at the back of the stage, but it was so dark that I could 
not discern who the lady was or what she was like. 
Some five years afterwards, to my great comfort and 
joy, I entered into the state of matrimony, and shortly 
after our honeymoon my wife told me, laughingly, 
that she had seen and heard me speak years before I 
had been formally introduced to her. " Where ? " I 
asked her in amazement. " Well ; " she replied, " it was 
at the Lyceum Theatre when they were rehearsing 
Monsieur Jacques, I was at the back of the stage and 
was watching you flirting with Miss Murray, who was 
a great friend of mine." Of course I was not flirting : 
it was " all in the piece," as Macready was wont to say, 
when actresses complained that he had clenched and 
pinched their arms black and blue. 

Now for a fresh example of the comparative small- 
ness of the World of London. We did not keep house 
when we were first married ; indeed I had not money 
enough to furnish the smallest of cottages; and the 
new Hire System had not yet been invented ; so for 
two or three years we lived in furnished apartments in 
and about Brompton — in Brompton Row, in Sloane 
Street, in Pelham Crescent, and in Brompton Square. 
The last set of lodgings was in a house kept by a 
portly lady who told us that her name was Bamett. 
"Any relation of Mr. Morris Bamett?" I. asked. 
** I am the widow," she replied, " of that celebrated and 



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58 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

gifted, but misguided man." In what way poor Mor- 
ris was misguided I am sure that I do not know. The 
last time I saw him it did not seem that the world was 
using him very kindly. He was managing a company 
of Marionettes which Mr. Simpson, the lessee of Cre- 
morne Gardens, was running at a little theatre close to 
the Adelaide Gallery in the Strand ; and this theatre 
was subsequently transferred to Chelsea. I don't think 
Morris Barnett absolutely pulled the wires; but he 
was certainly the mouthpiece of Mr. Simpson's pup- 
pets. 

You will remember that in the cast of Agnes Sarel 
I mentioned the name of Miss Priscilla Horton ; that 
graceful and melodious burlesque actress was after- 
wards to become Mrs. German Reed, so pleasantly 
known to modern entertainment lovers in connection 
with the delightful Gallery of Illustration. I also 
recollect that there played and sang in Agnes Sorel a 
very handsome young fellow with a silvery tenor voice 
called George Barker. He had been, so my mother 
used to tell me, one of the pages of the eccentric Lady 
Caroline Lamb ; but I am not aware whether he was 
the identical youthful servitor whom her ladyship in a 
fit of passion once knocked down — an occurrence 
which led Thomas Moore the poet to remark, that he 
saw no harm in a lady of literary tastes "doubling 
down a page now and then." George Barker after- 
wards developed into a singer of considerable repute, 
and was a man about town of some pretensions to 
fashion. He drove his cabriolet as Theodore Hook 
did. 

Braham's first season lasted little more than three 
months ; and he then let the theatre to the celebrated 
French actress, Madame Jenny Veztpr6, for the per- 
formance of French plays. Braham, however, re- 
opened the house in September, 1836, and it was then, 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE $9 



and in the succeeding year, 1837, that my mother was 
most frequently before the public, but quite as much 
as a vocalist as an actress. Of the pieces performed 
during these two years I especially remember the 
farce of T/ie Strange Gentleman^ an adaptation of one 
of the " Sketches by Boz/* made by the writer of the 
" Sketches " himself, Charles Dickens. The author of 
" Pickwick " also wrote the libretto for an opera called 
The Village Coquettes ^ the composer of the music of 
which was Mr. John Hullah, afterwards so widely 
known for his efiforts to develop the musical education 
of the people. His detractors — who has not detract- 
ors ?— used to call him " Mr. HuUah-buUoo." Then I 
recall Dr. Ame*s melodious but now altogether shelved 
opera of Artaxerxes^ which, in conformity with the 
ridiculous but indispensable procedure of the non- 
legitimate theatres, was styled " A Serious and Musi- 
cal Burletta." The Artabanes was Braham himself ; 
and the Mandane was a debutante by the name of Miss 
Rainforth, a young lady with a full voice, very power- 
ful on the upper notes, but not exceptionally forcible ; 
below the line her intonation was imperfect, and she 
occasionally sang a little sharp ; but her execution at 
once placed her on a level with Miss Shirreff and Miss 
Romer, the two leading English prime donne of the 
epoch. As usual in the operas produced during a sea- 
son of lyrical decadence, a number of airs filched from 
other operas were foisted into Dr. Arne's production. 
Henry Bishop's " Fly, Soft Ideas " was there. Braham 's 
own quartette, " Mild as the Moonbeams," was there, 
while from the mighty master Handel was borrowed, 
" Tears such as Tender Fathers Shed." 

For two reasons do I preserve two particular rem- 
iniscences of Artaxerxes at the St. James's. One is a 
pleasant, the other a horrible memory. Childlike, and 
artistically childlike, I was fascinated by the glowing 



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60 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Oriental scenery, the gorgeous dresses, the dazzling 
stage jewellery. But, unhappily, I was endowed with 
a fatal musical as well as verbal memory. I was at 
the theatre either before or behind the curtain almost 
every night ; and I soon learned to pipe in tolerable 
time and tune nearly all the songs in Artaxerxes. The, 
to me, miserable consequence was my being continu- 
ally maternally commanded to sing " Water Parted," 
or " Tears such as Tender Fathers Shed," or " Thy 
Father, Away ! " or " Monster, Away ! " or some kin- 
dred ditty for the questionable gratification of grown- 
up ladies and gentlemen, my mother's friends and ac- 
quaintances. 

I always hated recitations of 'any kind. I bitterly 
resented in childhood the imputation of being an in- 
fant phenomenon. I have always had a lively aver- 
sion for my own writings and my own individuality, 
and it was with absolute loathing that I was forced to 
come forth on the carpet as a show child and bleat 
forth songs or speeches or poetry. Very often I re- 
fused point blank to recite, and then I was scolded or 
punished for an obstinate young mule, which I am 
sure I was not ; I was only a nervous, observant child, 
who wanted to be left alone, and they would not leave 
me alone. I am trying in my sixty-sixth year to be 
left alone, but I do not succeed much better than I did 
when I was eight years old. Parents foolishly vain- 
glorious of the supposed cleverness of their children 
would do well to ponder. 

We had the Beggars' Opera, too, at the St. James's, 
Braham as Captain Macheath and Miss Rainforth as 
Polly. Peachum was played by that remarkable im- 
personator of old men's parts, Strickland, whose real 
name was Van Bum ; Lucy was appointed to a young 
lady named Stanley ; and the irresistibly droll come- 
dian John Pritt Harley, who was also stage manager 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 6 1 

at a salary of £30 a week, was Fi/cA. Harley had a 
craze for collecting rare and curious walking sticks ; 
just as George Godwin of the Builder had a penchant 
for gathering together historic chairs. Whether my 
mother played Mrs. Peachum I fail to remember; 
but she certainly enacted the Princess Huncamunca in 
Fielding's burlesque operetta of Tom Thumb: the great 
Strickland being the King, and Harley, Lord Grizzle. 
His death scene was excruciatingly funny ; and after 
he had been mortally stabbed and was lying half pros- 
trate on the stage singing the doleful dirge : 

" My body is a bankrupt's shop. 
My creditor is Death— grim Death," 

he would beckon to Sansbury, the leader of the or- 
chestra, and in faltering accents ask him for the loan 
of his snuflf-box. Mr. Sansbury, by-the-by, was a capi- 
tal leader, and managed the small but compact band 
admirably. In Art oxer xes we had the services of 
some really first-rate instrumentalists, including Har- 
per on the trumpet and Grattan Cook on the oboe. 

I am unable to give anything approaching a con- 
secutive view of the pieces in which my mother took 
part at the St. James's. She was literally an actress 
of all work, bringing to parts, great and small, all the 
advantages of her wonderful versatility and her in- 
domitable energy. I know that she played, and 
played very successfully, too, Meg Merrilies in Guy 
Mannering ; but whether it was at the St. James's or 
not I am not quite certain. That she did impersonate 
Meg is impressed on my mind by the fact that on the 
first night she was about to dye her face, hands, and 
arms with a preparation of walnut-juice ; and had she 
done so she would have been as brown as a berry for 
weeks; but fortunately there was present at rehear- 
sals a then well-known melodramatic actress, Mrs. W. 



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62 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

West, who seasonably warned her of the perils of the 
stain in question, and instructed her in the making of 
some dark cosmetic of the nature I should say of the 
modern " wig paste," which could be washed off after 
the performance by a liberal application of soap and 
water. So many and such widely differing rSles did 
she undertake that Braham once either seriously or 
jocularly suggested that she should appear as Gambia 
in The Slave, As the mother of five, my dear parent 
was naturally reluctant to assume a part, the costume 
of which necessitated not only the blacking of the 
hands and face, but the donning of a full suit of black 
tights with white calico " trunks ; " but Braham was 
not to be discouraged, and he positively induced her 
to dance in some spectacular piece, the scene of which 
was laid in Spain — a pas seul called the Cachucha, 
which was then the rage in London, it having been in- 
troduced into England by a famous French opera 
dancer. Mademoiselle Duvemay, who not long since 
passed away at the great age of eighty, and as the 
widow of Mr. Lyne - Stephens. She was a devout 
Roman Catholic, and magnificent in her munificence 
to Catholic and Protestant charities alike. Of course, 
my mother's Cachucha was rather a humorous para- 
phrase of Duvernay's ; but it had an immense success. 
I can recall her, now, in a black satin bodice and full 
pink silk skirt reaching, decorously, almost to the an- 
kles, and with many flounces of black lace ; I can hear 
the clicking of the castanets and the shouts of applause 
from the audience. One night she was thrice encored ; 
and as she left the stage, almost fainting from exhaus- 
tion, young Augustus Braham, one of the great tenor's 
sons and a lieutenant in a crack regiment, caught her 
in his arms and carried her as though she had been a 
feather up two flights of stairs to her dressing-room. 
Augustus Braham died only a very few years ago 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 63 

as Colonel or Major Braham, at St. Leonards. In his 
later years my acquaintance with him was pleasantly 
renewed. Braham's eldest son, John Hamilton Bra- 
ham, began his career at one of the Universities ; he 
was afterwards well-known in musical circles as a 
basso of considerable power. Charles, the third son, 
was gifted with a fine tenor voice and studied at 
Milan. His career as a professional artiste was not 
very protracted ; he had scarcely reached middle life 
when he found himself in the fortunate position of 
having nothing to do ; and that nothing he did su- 
perbly: singing, however, from time to time his fa- 
ther's " Death of Nelson," at convivial gatherings, just 
to' remind himself and his friends that he was a chip 
of the old block. All these three Brahams I knew in- 
timately, but of the youngest son, Ward, I had only a 
very slight knowledge. The first time I met him was 
on board a steamer ploughing the Straits from Dover 
to Calais ; and his fellow-traveller was a gentleman 
named Chichester Fortescue, who is now Lord Carling- 
ford. I treasure the remembrance because I remem- 
ber as a little boy being presented by the elder Bra- 
ham in a pit-box at the St. James's to a young lady, 
his daughter. Miss Frances Braham, afterwards to be- 
come the universally beloved and revered Frances 
Countess Waldegrave. All the Braham family, I ap- 
prehend, are now dead. 

I am privileged sometimes to meet a venerable lady, 
who, for all her years, is still, or was the last time I 
met her, as lively as Mrs. Keeley. She never fails to 
banter me about my age. " Own up," she says ; " tell 
the truth ; how long have you known me ? " " My 
dear Madam," I reply, " I have known you since the 
year 1836, when I first admired your beauty and your 
genius at the St. James's, under Braham's manage- 
ment. You were attired, if I remember right, in a 



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64 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

purple velvet jacket and continuations, pink silk 
stockings cross gartered, and a steeple-crowned hat 
adorned with many ribbons, with a slouched brim; 
two pistols adorned your sash, and in your right hand 
you carried a rifle ; you were playing the part of the 
hero in a piece called Pascal Bruno, a translation, I be- 
lieve, of Alexandre Dumas's melodrama of the same 
name." The young and handsome lady who was so 
brave in purple velvet and ribbons in the days when 
William IV. was king, is the extant and venerable 
Mrs. Stirling. 

We were great in burlesques at the St. James's un- 
der Braham's regime. I remember one on Shake- 
speare's King John. Then we had the operatic burletta 
of the Quaker, an excellent basso, named Adam Leffler, 
playing Steady. Among the operas, an English ver- 
sion of Weber's Oberon ; or the Elf King's Oath — 
Braham playing Huon of Bordeaux — comes back to 
me ; and I also remember another " farcical burletta," 
entitled The Tradesman's Ball, and a remarkably lugu- 
brious burlesque extravaganza The Revolt of the Work^ 
house. The New Poor Law was then in the dawn of 
its unpopularity ; and public attention was being 
drawn with terrible force to the new Union Work- 
house system in young Mr. Charles Dickens's novel of 
"Oliver Twist," which was then appearing in the 
pages of Bentleys Miscellany, Unless I gravely err, 
" Oliver " was dramatised at the St. James's (of course, 
without the author's consent) almost as soon as it was 
concluded in Bentley ; and I have a dim remembrance 
of reading in some comic periodical of the time that 
so horrified was Dickens, who was present in a pri- 
vate-box, at the wretched hash made of his powerful 
fiction, that at the conclusion of the second act " noth- 
ing but the soles of the boots of ' the Boz ' were visible 
on the ledge of his box." 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 6$ 

Not without some fear and trembling do I tell this 
story ; since I find in Forster's " Life of Dickens " an 
explicit statement on the part of the biographer that 
he accompanied Dickens to a representation of Oliver 
Twist at the Surrey Theatre, and that in the middle of 
the first scene the author laid himself down upon the 
floor in a corner of the box, and never rose from it till 
the curtain fell. It is just possible that the outburst 
of feeling at the Surrey may have been a replica of 
that at the St. James's. 

But to return to T/ie Revolt of the Workhouse. What 
the extravaganza was about I have not at present any 
definite remembrance ; but I recollect that on the first 
night there was represented a kind of trick or trans- 
formation scene, simulating a field of turnips which 
were changed into the heads of " supers " supposed to 
be paupers. These animated turnips rose through a 
trap-door to the stage, and then advanced in a cadav- 
erous cohort to the footlights, crooning some doleful 
chant about the scantiness of their rations. I have al- 
ways firmly believed that this transformation scene of 
the animated turnips gave Dickens, who was con- 
stantly behind the scenes at the St. James's at the 
time, the idea of Mn Crummles's celebrated practical 
" set " of the " pump and tubs." 

I must not omit to state at one period of the Braham 
management there were given a succession of light 
French operas, with English libretti. Conspicuous 
among these was Le Postilion de LongjumeaUy Braham 
taking the part of the historic postilion whose splendid 
voice brought him within apparently imminent peril 
of committing bigamy and being hanged. Another 
Opfera Comique which took a lasting hold on my youth- 
ful imagination was the Ambassadrice^ the closing scene 
of which represented a private box on the pit-tier of a 
theatre, from which box a simulated stage with artistes 
5 



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66 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

performing, an orchestra with a real band, and a por- 
tion of the pit and the tiers of boxes opposite filled 
with real spectators, were visible. The invention was 
a most skilf uF, and to me a charming one ; and my sister 
and I forthwith set to work to make a cardboard 
model of the scene, and to fill it with puppets moulded 
from bread. 

You will think it, no doubt, very frivolous on my 
part to recall so childish an incident ; but I contend 
that the making of that little model was only an out- 
come of that art of paying attention to small things to 
which I have always devoted myself ever since I began 
to think ; and I hold that if you pay strict attention to 
minor matters, you will find in the long run that many 
of them will prove distinctly useful to you. For ex- 
ample : about ten years after the production of UAm- 
bassadrice at the St. James's, a charming French canta- 
trice, of English extraction, Madame Anna Thillon, 
who had already taken the town at the Princess's in 
Tfie Crown Diamonds, returned to the same theatre 
with a repertoire in which the first opera was LAmbas- 
sadrice. Happening to meet in Regent Street my old 
friend, Mr. John Medex Maddox, in whose employ- 
ment I had been from 1846 to 1847, ^ind with whom I 
had remained on the friendliest terms, he told me that 
Madame Anna Thillon had come back, and that he was 
going to mount L Ambassadrice. I mentioned to him 
that I had seen the opera at the St. James's in 1837, 
and again as a schoolboy in Paris in 1840, and that I 
knew very well how the last scene should be " staged," 
inasmuch as I had made a model of the set when I was 
a child. Maddox was delighted with the intelligence, 
and asked me to come up to my old quarters in the 
painting-room the next day and talk to the scenic ar- 
tists. I showed them how I had seen the thing done 
in London and Paris. I sat in the pit during the re- 



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THE ST. JAMES'S THEATRE 6/ 

hearsal, and gave viva voce s^dwicG to the stage manager, 
the super-master, and the master carpenter; and Mad- 
dox very handsomely presented me with an hono- 
rarium of one guinea, which I can assure you was at that 
period of the very greatest use to a young gentleman 
about town who was working exceedingly hard, but the 
intervals between whose breakfasts and whose dinners 
were very often uncomfortably prolonged. As a simple 
truth, I am of opinion that the intervals in question 
were not unfrequently between breakfast and break- 
fast, and that the dinners often fell out of the record 
altogether. 

In 1837, and during a portion of 1838 the lyrical 
members of the company at the St. James's worked 
double turns. Braham, to his destruction, had become 
the lessee of a huge building in the Regent's Park 
called the Colosseum, which had been begun in 1824 
from the designs of Decimus Burton. With its con- 
servatories and adjacent garden it occupied about an 
acre. It was a ponderous edifice of polygonal form 
with a portico and a huge surmounting dome, and bore 
a much closer resemblance to the Pantheon of Agrippa 
than to the Colosseum at Rome. Here was exhibited, 
when I first remember the place, the gigantic pano- 
rama of London, planned by Mr. Horner and painted 
by Pariis (?). There was a Hall of Mirrors ; there was 
a Gothic aviary and some sham ruins and a grotto ; 
and in particular I remember a great ascending room 
which would hold from thirty to forty spectators, and 
may be considered practically as the grandfather of 
modern English lifts. The invention I take to be an 
Italian one ; since in the " Greville Memoirs " there is 
a mention of an ascending room seen by Mr. Greville 
in a palace at Genoa some time in the 'thirties ; but the 
device would seem to be a very ancient one. 

To the miscellaneous attractions of the Regent's 



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68 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Park Colosseum, Braham added that which was practi- 
cally a variety show or Music Hall, conducted on most 
enterprising lines. There was an ample stage, and the 
sages of the London County Council — ^should any of 
those wiseacres come across this book — will read with 
dismay that there was a bar at one extremity of the 
auditorium, and that waiters freely circulated among 
the rows of seats between the " turns/* crying in sono- 
rous tones : " Give your orders, gents." I am not 
aware whether smoking was permitted. Of the enter- 
tainments given I remember just three : — There was 
the "operatic burletta" of the Watertnan, in which 
Braham played Tom and my mother Mrs. Bundle. 
Then there was a wonderfully funny male singer who 
used to earn encore after encore in a song called, 
" Biddy the Basket Woman," and as his popularity in- 
creased he added to his repertoire a patriotic ditty 
with the taking title of " The Bonny English Rose." 
The " Bonny English Rose " was of course, the youth- 
ful Sovereign who had just ascended the throne, Her 
Majesty Queen Victoria, who may Heaven long pre- 
serve and bless ! 



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CHAPTER VII 

FROM THE BEDOUIN ARABS AT THE COLOSSEUM TO 
THE DAWNING OF PICKWICK 

The last attraction of the Colosseum Music Hall was 
a troupe of Bedouin Arabs. Whether they were 
Bedouins or not I will not vouch for, but they were 
assuredly Arabs and devout Mohammedans. They 
used to stand on each other's heads and tie themselves 
into knots, and vaylt and tumble, and perform other 
feats common enough in these advanced acrobatic 
days, but which in 1837 were considered to be little less 
than supernatural. There was one Arab in particular 
who was said to be a dervish. He was really the 
schoolmaster of the half-Ti-dozen little boys which the 
so-called Bedouins had brought with them ; and per- 
formed a trick which to my young mind verged on 
the miraculous. He would climb to the top of a long 
pole stuck on the stage, and then, clutching the pole 
with his right hand would throw the rest of his body 
into space and assume a sitting attitude in the air. 
Whether this was done by means of a subtle arrange- 
ment of irons under his garments, or by sheer trained 
muscular strength, I had no means of judging, but the 
delusion was simply astounding. 

The sheik, or head of this band, was a Turk named 
Abdallah. All Turks are born gentlemen; and Ab- 
dallah, mere funambulist as he was, presented no ex- 
ception to the rule. He was a courteous, well-bred 
person, extremely observant and intelligent ; he spoke 
a little French when he arrived in England, and my 



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70 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

mother taught him a good deal of English. The re- 
sult of his tuition in our tongue was curious. He and 
his troupe lived in a roomy house in the Blackfriars 
Road, close to the Surrey Theatre ; and my sister and 
I, accompanied by our nurse, Mrs. Esner, used to 
make frequent trips to the Surrey side of the water to 
take tea with Abdallah and his merry men, and play 
with the brown-skinned, white-turbaned little Arab 
boys. Their mammas had not, it is almost unneces- 
sary to say, accompanied them to the land of the 
Giaours. The schoolroom was on the ground floor and 
was a lofty apartment, destitute of any kind of furni- 
ture, with the exception of a square of carpet on which 
the dervish pedagogue used to sit cross-legged. Be- 
fore him was a circle traced on the floor, the area 
neatly covered with white sand ; and round this circle 
the little scholars used to crouch on their haunches 
and trace letters and words in Arabic with their fin- 
gers in the sand. If they made a mistake the error was 
easily rubbed out and the sand tablet was soon ready 
to be written upon again. Their lessons in callig- 
raphy were alternated by the singing in a monotonous 
chant verses from the Koran ; and altogether this little 
Mussulman school in the heart of London was a thing 
to be delighted in and to be wondered at. 

The Arabs killed their own meat, and I suspect — tell 
it not to modern Inspectors of Nuisances — that the 
butchering was done in the back kitchen. The end of 
Abdallah, so far as we were concerned, was curious. 
He and his troupe left England for an extended con- 
tinental tour, from which they realised, I believe, a 
great deal of money. Abdallah returned to London 
for a short time in 1841 ; he had abandoned his full 
Oriental garb and wore a black frock-coat and a fez, 
under which sumptuary conditions he might well have 
been mistaken for an attach^ of the Ottoman Embassy. 



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THE BEDOUIN ARABS AT THE COLOSSEUM 71 

He had ceased to be a sheik and called himself on his 
visiting cards " Mr. Abdallah." My mother used to 
tell us laughingly that the formerly strictly orthodox 
Moslem had become very fond of eggs and bacon, 
and that he did not by any means object to pork 
chops for lunch. Then we heard that he had mar- 
ried a widow lady of ample dimensions and means as 
ample, who kept a gin palace in the Old Kent Road. 
I sincerely hope that there was not another Mrs. Ab- 
dallah at Cairo or at Alexandria. 

One last word about the ill-fated Colosseum, which, 
after passing through innumerable vicissitudes as a 
place of entertainment, was pulled down in 1876, and 
the site utilised for building purposes. In one of the 
houses in Albany Street, erected on the site of the old 
Music Hall, I used often to dine with my deceased 
friend the well-known actor, John Clayton, who mar- 
ried a daughter of Dion Boucicault, and whose brother 
Claude, a clever painter of genre^ exhibited under the 
name of Calthrop.* In John Clayton's dining-room, 
on many pleasant Sundays, I used to conjure up 
memories of the bygone Colosseum days ; and in par- 
ticular would I recall a rosy- cheeked barmaid with 
glossy brown tresses and laughing black eyes, with 
whom the young Brahams used to flirt outrageously. 
In 1873 I had a desperate illnes^, which kept me for 
seven months prostrate and unable either to write or 
to dictate a line. My malady was such an agonising 
one — affecting as it did my entire body, which was 
generally kept well painted with collodion flexile, or 
with flowers of sulphur, or with white of egg or Can- 
ada balsam — that my kind medical attendants. Dr. An- 
stie and Dr. J. P. Steele, were afraid to move me to my 
bedroom upstairs ; and my couch of misery was fltted 
up in the dining-room. I suffered, as a bonne bouche^ 

* Calthrop was John Clayton's real name. 



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72 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

horribly from insomnia, and, rebellious to the most 
potent narcotics, was more or less sleepless for weeks. 
Of course I had a day -nurse and a night-nurse. 
The nocturnal attendant was a chubby female of about 
fifty years of age. Generally speaking, she was thor- 
oughly incompetent. She had been warned, however, 
by some doctor that she should shake the medicine 
bottle before administering the potion to the patient, 
but unfortunately she gave too literal a reading to 
this precept, and she was continually agitating 
draughts which did not require shaking at all. She 
had another little habit rather inconvenient to a pa- 
tient who was frequently in the habit of going, 
through sheer bodily anguish, into convulsions. Mrs. 

G (Gamp was not her name, but it might have 

been) was subject to the most extraordinary exposi- 
tions of sleep that I ever was aware of. No sooner, as 
a rule, had she arrived and partaken of a copious sup- 
per, than, watching her opportunity when I had closed 
my eyes in one of a hundred attempts to snatch half-an- 
hour*s slumber, she would cock up her substantial legs 
on a chair and fall, at once, into a sound sleep. Pres- 
ently she would snore, and then I would swear so vig- 
orously that she would jump up in her sleep like a jack- 
in-the-box, and exclaim, " Lawks a mussy me, the dear 
good gentleman's a-goin' off his head ! " Of course, she 
always stoutly denied that she had been to sleep at all. 
She had, however, her waking moments, and one night 
she told me that in her youth she had been a barmaid at 
the Colosseum, and much noted for good looks — " which 
Capting Horgustus Braham was always horderin' 
champagne to drink her 'elth ! " To think of the bright- 
eyed, brown-haired Hebe of my boyhood transformed 

into Mrs. G , who might have been Mrs. Gamp ! 

John Braham left the St. James's Theatre at the 
close of the season of 1838, comparatively speaking a 



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THE BEDOUIN ARABS AT THE COLOSSEUM 73 

ruined man. When he assumed the management of 
the beautiful house in King Street and the huge edi- 
fice in the Regent's Park, he must have been very 
wealthy ; but his vast fortune had been swallowed up 
in the vortex of a disastrous adventure. They say that 
there are three almost infallible ways for getting rid in 
a very brief space of time of a large fortune — namely, 
to start a newspaper, to keep a steam-yacht, and to 
run a theatre ; but I think that I will back the theatre 
as the easiest and the swiftest means for the conversion 
of pieces of silver and pieces of gold into dry leaves, or 
into receiving orders from the officials of the Court of 
Bankruptcy. 

Braham was not discouraged by what was practi- 
cally ruin. Although he was sixty-four years of age 
he buckled on his armour again, and once sought the 
smiles of Fortune as a vocalist in the United States — 
where his popularity had not waned, and where he 
made a prolonged and on the whole highly remuner- 
ative tour. The last time I heard him sing was at 
Brighton in 1846, in an oratorio at the Town Hall, and 
there still lingers in my ear the memory of " Honour 
and Arms Forbid such a Fray,*' which he gave with 
superb effect. He was then seventy-two years of age. 
He died in peace and comfort in 1856, made happy in 
his declining years by the affectionate solicitude of his 
daughter, Frances Countess Waldegrave. I had seen, 
as my readers have already been told, that grande dame 
in her early girlhood. She was not beautiful, but her 
face beamed with intelligence. The phases of her re- 
markable career are sufficiently well known, and it is 
unnecessary to dilate upon them beyond merely stat- 
ing the facts that she was married first to Captain 
Waldegrave; next to Earl Waldegrave; thirdly to 
Mr. Manners Sutton (the son of an archbishop of 
York), and fourthly \o Mr. Chichester Fortescue (now 



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74 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Lord Carlingford). She was a most bounteous, kindly, 
accomplished, and liberal-minded lady. She was a kind 
of aristocratic Mrs. Thrale ; and her beautiful home at 
Strawberry Hill had many of the characteristics of 
Streatham, minus, however, the presence of that " re- 
spectable Hottentot," Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

I am afraid that I have lingered a little too long 
over the Braham epoch, but I may be forgiven for 
having done so, since in more than one sense the St. 
James's Theatre at least has been the keystone of the 
arch of my life. There I first saw, as a very young 
and eminently handsome man, Charles Dickens. His 
wonderful works of fiction are, I hope and believe, as 
widely read in these days as they were in 1837-8 ; but 
the present generation, I should say, can scarcely form 
an idea of the absolute furore of excitement which 
reigned in reading-England during the time that the 
monthly parts of the novels in the green covers were 
in progress of publication. We have all heard the 
story of the invalid whose doctor gravely told him 
that he feared that he, the sick man, could not possi- 
bly survive for another month, but who, as the physi- 
cian was leaving the room, was heard to mutter to 
himself, " Well, at all events, the next number of * Pick- 
wick ' will be out in a fortnight ; " and there is another 
not quite so well known anecdote, related many years 
since by a writer in Blackwood^ setting forth how, when 
he, the writer in question, was a schoolboy, there sud- 
denly occurred to him, one Sunday in church and in 
the middle of a very dull sermon, the memory of an 
exceptionally comic episode in " Pickwick," which im- 
pelled him to burst out in a prolonged and uncontrol- 
lable burst of laughter, which act of irreverent hilarity 
led to his being at once and ignominiously removed 
by the beadle — there were beadles in those days — 
from the sacred edifice. 



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THE BEDOUIN ARABS AT THE COLOSSEUM 75 

Stories of this kind were as plentiful as blackberries 
in the early days of what people used to call the 
" Bozomania.'* Dogs and cats used to be named Sam 
and Jingle and Mrs. Wardell and Job Trotter. A 
penny cigar, presumably of British make, was chris- 
tened "The Pickwick." Gutter-blood publishers pi- 
rated the masterpiece of farcical fiction which was 
astonishing the English-speaking world, and we had 
the " Penny Pickwick " and the " Posthumous Memoirs 
of the Pic-Nic Club " in weekly numbers. Even the 
more respectable class of cheap periodicals, " Olios," 
" Parterres," " Mirrors," and the like, were not ashamed 
to print extracts, whether three or four pages at a 
time from each monthly part, published by Messrs. 
Chapman and Hall. As for ourselves — I mean my 
own family in King Street, St. James's, where we lived 
on the first floor of a house right opposite the theatre, 
— my brother Albert, my sister Augusta, and myself, 
were content in the course of a couple of years to get 
the " Pickwick Papers," " Nicholas Nickleby," and 
" Oliver Twist " by heart. Then we used to " play at" 
Dickens, and dramatise his novels on our own private 
account. Many a time have I enacted Bill Sikes and 
murdered Nancy — otherwise my sister, in the back 
bedroom. Then we set to work copying as well as 
we could George Cruikshank's illustrations to "Oli- 
ver," and Phiz's etchings to " Pickwick " and " Nickle- 
by," and, unless I am mistaken, my lamented friend 
Mr. Edmund Yates had a little old scrap-book of mine 
full of imitations in pen and ink of the etchings afore- 
signed. Across one of them, an exceptionally vile one 
— but this may not be in the book I gave Edmund — 
is written in a large bold hand, " This is not by G. 
A. S." 

The writing, I apprehend, was that of my eldest 
brother Frederick, who was eight years my senior. 



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^6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

He was a very clever young man, and was exception- 
ally brilliant in mathematics ; he drew and modelled 
ships admirably ; he was a skilled chemist, and had a 
great fondness for graphic anatomy, and would have 
achieved eminence, I take it, either as a sailor, an 
engineer, or a physician ; " instead of which," as the 
learned Judge remarked in the celebrated duck-steal- 
ing case, my mother determined that he should be a 
professor of instrumental music. So he was entered 
as a student at the Royal Academy of Music in Ten- 
terden Street, Hanover Square, the male pupils of 
which wore, I think, in 1838 an absurd kind of uni- 
form dimly resembling that of a midshipman in the 
Royal Navy ; but on the annual occasion of the Acad- 
>emy Ball — where is that ball now ? alas ! I am afraid 
that it is as defunct as Hans Breitmann's " barty " — 
my brother Frederick was permitted to disport him- 
self in the height of the fashion, as fashion was under- 
stood in the second year of Her Majesty's reign. 

Fashion sanctioned in the case of a young gentleman 
of seventeen a maroon tail-coat lined with white silk, 
and with gilt buttons, a prodigious shirt-frill, 2l Jabot of 
Brussels lace, a crimson velvet waistcoat, two under- 
waistcoats— one of green watered silk and the other of 
white kerseymere — a high stock or cravat of black 
satin with a double breast-pin joined by a little chain 
of gold; tightly fitting mouse - coloured pantaloons 
with two rows of little mother-of-pearl buttons at the 
ankles; speckled silk socks, varnished pumps with 
broad bows of black ribbon. Stay ! " the costume was 
completed," as Mr. G. P. R. James used to say in his 
novels, by the young gentleman having his hair 
curled. The hair of every one of us was as straight as 
so many pendent strands of whip-cord, and my sister's 
own tresses — ^although they came down to her knees, 
were coal-black and totally innocent of a curl, and 



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THE BEDOUIN ARABS AT THE COLOSSEUM ^^ 

gave her, conjoined with her slight stature and dark 
complexion, the semblance of an Indian squaw. Yet 
on high days and holidays, not only the seniors, but 
we youngsters, were placed under the care of M. 
Theodore, the coiffeur of the Regent's Quadrant, 
whose skilful assistant sent us out into society with 
our normally straight locks curling like the young 
tendrils of the vine. I can smell the hot curling irons 
and the faint scent of the bears* grease now. Ugh ! 

I was dreadfully afraid of my elder brother, who 
was not unfrequently apt to pass the time of day with 
me in the manner so graphically described to Roger 
Ascham by Lady Jane Grey in her account of her 
treatment by her relations: "Yea, presentlie, some- 
tymes with pinches, nippes, bobbes, and other wayes 
which I will not name for the honour I bear them.** I 
was indeed not very sorry when, after about eighteen 
months* study in Tenterden Street, my eldest brother 
was sent to Paris to be placed under the tuition of a 
then famous pianiste named Kalkbrenner. But even 
under those circumstances my much -dreaded elder 
Kinsman was only at the other end of a lengthening 
chain which eventually drew me along with it, across 
the Straits of Dover; since when 1, myself, was sent 
to a public school — it was a day-school in Paris in 1839 
— I found myself an inmate of the same pension in the 
Rue de Courcelles in which my brother was a free and 
independent boarder. 

Free and independent my brother Frederick was in^ 
most senses of the term, inasmuch as he had his own 
private sitting-room and bedroom, and could go out 
whenever he pleased ; although the proprietor of the 
pension, y[, H6non, whom we boys used disrespectfully 
to call le marchand de soupe, would make some faint as- 
sertion of authority by inciting the concierge, who was 
known as La M^re Thomas, not to respond to my 



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78 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

brother's summons at the bell, when he came home at 
two in the morning. I did not see much of him dur- 
ing our stay under one roof. He was grown up and 
enjoying to the full all the pleasures of the Paris life of 
the period — and Paris in the eighth year of the reign 
of King Louis Philippe was, perhaps, even a gayer 
city than it is under the present second-class music- 
hall and dancing-booth Republican regime — and some- 
times so rarely did I see my relative that I was apt 
to imagine that he had forgotten the fact of my exist- 
ence — not a very important fact, under any circum- 
stances. 

At the same time I had my revenge for the " pinches, 
nippes, and bobbes " of the Lady Jane Grey order. I 
was not an exceptionally vindictive boy, but most 
children have a liking for giving tit for tat, or a Ro- 
land for an Oliver when they think that they have 
been unjustly treated. 

My vengeance took a very mild form. My brother 
Frederick, thanks to his own talent and industry, 
and the scientific and technical instruction so sedu- 
lously imparted to him by Kalkbrenner, had become 
a splendid pianist — so said our friend the illustri- 
ous Thalberg; so said those wonderful mistresses 
of the pianoforte, Madame Pleyel, Madame Dulck- 
en, and Mrs. Anderson. When he came back from 
Paris, he studied counterpoint and thoroughbass lin- 
der G. A. Macfarren ; but he had one inveterate and 
incorrigible fault — his ear was not quite true. In 
Paris, apart from his lessons with Kalkbrenner, he 
would practice on an average nine hours a day ; and 
over and over again on summer afternoons, while I 
was playing ball in the gravelled courtyard of the 
Pension H6non; and I could hear through the open 
window my brother pounding away at some ab- 
struse piece of music — it was my fiendish delight to 



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SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS 79 

cry at the top of my voice, "-False note, Fred, false 
note ! " I used to give him a wide berth when next 
I met him in view of contingent "nippes, pinches, 
and bobbes." 



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CHAPTER VIII 

NEWGATE NOVELS AND AN APOLOGY 

I HAVE told you that in King Street, St. James's — 
smiling victims of the delightful contagion of the 
" Bozomania" — we used to " play at Dickens," get him 
by heart, and copy the illustrations to his books. We 
did more than that. We used to buy twopenny 
Dutch dolls at a toyshop in a queer little alley, called, 
I think, Crown Court, which ran from King Street 
into Pall Mall, which puppets my sister used to dress 
up to represent Mr. Pickwick, the Rev. Mr. Stiggins, 
the elder Mr. Weller, Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz, and so 
forth. The oddest of places was that Crown Court. 
Although I have a club in Pall Mall, and although, 
when I am in town, I often look in at the shop of my 
cigar merchant, Mr. Henry Wilson, opposite Marl- 
borough House, full half a century has, I should say, 
elapsed since I have traversed the court in which is 
still, I suppose, the stage-door of the St. James's Thea- 
tre — a door which, in my early boyhood, I must have 
passed through hundreds upon hundreds of times. 

Does old Crown Court still hold its own ? Does it 
yet harbour sweet-stuff shops, where they used to 
vend the beloved hard-bake, the succulent almond- 
rock, the delightful allycampane, the fascinating 
Buonaparte's ribs, the exhilarating brandy-balls — 
sweetmeats, I fear, which would be considered coarse 
in this refined age of chocolate creams and candied 
violets. There was a tinsmith's, too, in the old Crown 
Court; and I used to please myself with imagining 



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NEWGATE NOVELS AND AN APOLOGY 8 1 

that the original " Little Dust-Pan " had been manu- 
factured there. I feel tolerably certain that the court 
comprised a rag-shop, with an effigy of " Aunt Sally " 
pendent over the door; and my olfactory memory 
still reminds me that the whole place smelt desper- 
ately of tallow-dips, soft soap, and kitchen stuff. But 
for aught I know, the existing Crown Court may be 
quite a metamorphosed locality, full of the elegantly- 
appointed chambers of financial agents, or the offices 
of fashionable West End solicitors. Such a metamor- 
phosis has, to my certain knowledge, come over an- 
other passage to the east, leading from King Street 
into Pall Mall, which passage was in 1838 called Prin- 
cess's Place, and was one of the vilest dens of iniquity 
to be found at the West End. 

It has not been without a serious and deliberate in- 
tent that I have dwelt on my personal experiences of 
the Pickwick fever, or " Bozomania." In the " Life of 
Cola di Rienzi," the last of the Roman Tribunes, I 
read : " Fu da sua gioventudine nutricato del latte 
deir eloquenza, buono grammatico, megliore rettorico, 
autorista buono. ..." I can with justice say that 
from the time I first began to study I read only the 
works of good authors, and endeavoured to express 
myself grammatically ; although I was never taught, 
and am at the present monient grossly ignorant of the 
rules of English grammar ; but I wrote a tragedy, in 
rhyming couplets, in the French language, before I 
was ten ; and many years afterwards Alfred Wigan, 
the comedian, who was one of the most superb French 
scholars I ever met with, told me that there wer? very 
few faults either in quantity, in orthography, or in 
syntax in my juvenile tragedy of Fr/d/gondey the chief 
fault of which, he said, was its persistent bloody-mind- 
edness. For this homicidal tendency there was a curi- 
ously sufficing reason. The literary taste of the age 
6 



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82 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

was to a great extent, as regarded fiction, of a san- 
guinary character. We had done with such ghastly 
mediaeval romances as Mrs. RadcliflFe's "Mysteries of 
Udolpho " and Matthew Lewis's " Monk ; " but there 
had, on the other hand, grown up in the public mind a 
strange and unwholesome fondness for works of fiction 
of which criminals of the most flagitious order were 
the heroes. I cannot help thinking that this morbid 
partiality for what I may call Old Bailey novels was 
due to the amazingly strong grasp which had been 
taken of the public curiosity by the revelations inci- 
dental to the murder of Weare by Thurtell ; and the 
forgeries of Fauntleroy the banker, who lived in a 
house in Berners Street, Oxford Street, which man- 
sion is at present the Berners Hotel. Added to the 
grim notoriety of the two tragedies enacted in the 
latter years of the reign of George IV., must be re- 
membered an unutterably horrible deed of blood per- 
petrated at Christmas-time, 1837, by one James Green- 
acre, who murdered and mutilated in most horrible 
manner the body of a woman named Hannah Brown. 

At the period named we had gone to live for change 
of air at Pine-apple Villas, Maida Vale ; and it was in 
an empty house next door to the one which, for a brief 
term, we had hired furnished, that the mangled trunk 
of the murdered woman was discovered. The limbs 
turned up in different parts of London ; and the head 
was found in the lock of one of the suburban canals. 
It subsequently transpired that the murderer had trav- 
elled in an omnibus with this head in a canvas bag on 
his knee ; and the ghastly, and of course apocryphal, 
story was attributed to him that on leaving the vehicle 
with his dreadful parcel under his arm, he had ob- 
served to the conductor that by right he ought to pay 
for two passengers. More than three months elapsed 
between the capture and the execution of the assassin ; 



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NEWGATE NOVELS AND AN APOLOGY 83 



but during the whole of that time London was con- 
vulsed by a Greenacre fever, the minutest details of 
the tragedy being discussed in the politest society. 
Of course, Mr. Catnach, of Seven Dials, speedily im- 
proved the opportunity, and commissioned one of his 
hack-poets to indite a doleful ditty describing all the 
circumstances of the crime, which effusion was sung 
with the result of a rich harvest of coppers in most of 
the London thoroughfares. I cannot find this tragic 
lay in Mr. John Ashton's " Modern Street Ballads," 
but I remember the first stanza of the song, which 

ran: — 

" Oh ! Jimmy Greenacre ! 
You shouldn't have done it, Greenacre ; 
You knocked her head in with the rolling-pin, 
You wicked Jimmy Greenacre." 

With Greenacre was associated an accessory after 
the fact, a woman named Sarah Gale; she was con- 
victed and sentenced to transportation for life; and 
nearly fifty years after she left her country for her 
country's good, I heard in Australia some curious par- 
ticulars concerning this Sarah Gale — particulars which 
confirmed me in the impression which had long dwelt 
in my mind, that Greenacre never intended to kill 
Hannah Brown, but that in the^ heat of a quarrel he 
had dealt her with a rolling-pin, or some other non- 
legal weapon, a blow which had caused her to stagger 
and fall with her head against the corner of a table, 
and that the fall was a fatal one. The man to all ap- 
pearance was a weak-kneed, faint-hearted, shambling 
creature, against whom, touching his antecedents, it 
could only be proved that, as a grocer in a small way 
of business, he had once been fined for adulterating his 
tea with chopped birch-brooms and sloe-leaves. His 
crime only recurs to me now for the reason that I am 
very much afraid that in King Street, St. James's, 



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84 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

when we were tired of playing at Dickens, we also 
played at Greenacre ; and I must unreservedly accept 
the responsibility of having constructed in cardboard 
a neat model of the " Debtor's Door,'* Newgate, with 
the gallows, and a practically working drop ; while 
suspended from the cross-beam was one of our two- 
penny dolls from Crown Court, dressed as we imag- 
ined Mr. James Greenacre would be attired on the 
morning of his being hanged. I little knew that I was 
destined in a professional capacity to see many human 
creatures judicially strangled. 

I repeat it was an age when novel-readers delighted 
in the felonious. Edward Lytton Bulwer had already 
thrilled the public with his beautiful but deleterious 
romances, " Eugene Aram " and " Paul Clifford." A 
writer in Fraser's Magazine had endeavoured — but all 
in vain — to stem the tide of bad taste by publishing a 
burlesque romance entitled " Elizabeth de Brown- 
rigge," of which the heroine was a notorious harridan 
of Fetter Lane, who, according to Canning in the Anti- 
Jacobin, " whipped two female 'prentices to death and 
hid them in the coal-hole ; " while Thackeray, then an 
almost unknown writer, bantered the Old Bailey 
school of fiction in his "Catherine: a Story," first 
published under the pseudonym of " Ikey Solomon, 
Junior;" the real Ikey having been a notorious re- 
ceiver of stolen goods. Catherine was the Christian 
name of one Mrs. Hayes, who, early in the reign of 
George I., cruelly murdered her husband under cir- 
cumstances to some extent corresponding with those 
which attended the slaughter of Hannah Brown by 
Greenacre. In particular the murderess cut off her 
husband's head and concealed it in the dock before a 
lime -wall near the Horseferry, Westminster. The 
churchwardens of the parish caused the ghastly relic 
of mortality to be washed and the hair to be combed ; 



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NEWGATE NOVELS AND AN APOLOGY 85 



and the head was set up on a pole in the churchyard 
of St. Margaret's, Westminster, in the hopes of its 
being identified. It afterwards came to light that the 
accomplices of Mrs. Hayes — a certain Billings and one 
Wood — distributed the trunk and limbs of the mur- 
dered man in divers sequestered spots round London. 

Unluckily for himself the genius of William Make- 
peace Thackeray, whose intellect was already saturated 
with the literature bearing on the manners and customs 
of the early Georgian era, and whose powers of minute 
observation were Hogarthian, brought about in his 
manipulation of his story a result which he could 
scarcely have contemplated. The public very soon 
forgot that they were reading a professed satire on 
Bulwer's Newgate novels, and they found themselves 
absorbed in, and fascinated by, a wonderfully realistic 
fiction, almost equalling Fielding's "Jonathan Wild 
the Great." 

A queer kind of Nemesis in connection with this 
story was many years afterwards to dog the heels of 
the illustrious novelist. In " Pendennis " he most in- 
nocently, but most unfortunately, incidentally alluded 
to "Catherine Hayes, the murderess." It happened 
at that precise period that an Irish cantatrice. Miss 
Catherine Hayes, was enjoying well-deserved and 
widespread popularity, and the whole Irish nation 
were naturally proud of their gifted young country- 
woman, who, besides being an accomplished artiste, 
was a lady of the most blameless character. A howl 
of indignation arose from the entire Hibernian press, 
which, by-the-way, had not forgotten Thackeray's 
" Irish Sketch-Book," and his scathing satire in Punch, 
" The Battle of Limerick." They entirely ignored 
Catherine Hayes the murderess, and they charged 
"the Big-Blubber Man" — as, with other abusive 
epithets, they called Thackeray — with wilfully and 



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86 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

scandalously libelling the fair fame of Miss Catherine 
Hayes the vocalist. 

Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer, however, afterwards 
the first Earl of Lytton, was fated — although the shafts 
of " Ikey Solomon, Junior," and the anonymous writer 
in Fraser of " Elizabeth de Brownrigge " failed to 
pierce his literary corselet — to be beaten on his own 
ground by another writer of fiction very much his in- 
ferior in genius, but who was nevertheless endowed 
with a considerable amount of melodramatic power, 
and who had acquired a conspicuous faculty for dra- 
matic description. This was young Mr. William Har- 
rison Ainsworth, who first essayed felonious fiction in 
his interesting but unequal romance " Rookwood," in 
which one of the leading characters was the noto- 
riously coarse and crapulous highwayman and horse- 
thief, Dick Turpin. Turpin's ride to York, as a piece 
of word-painting, has been rarely, if ever, surpassed in 
the prose of the Victorian era. It is true that more 
than once it has been alleged that Harrison Ainsworth 
was not the writer of this astonishing episode, but that 
it was the composition of his friend Dr. William Ma- 
ginn. As to the truth or falsehood ot this allegation I 
am wholly incompetent to pronounce ; but looking at 
Ainsworth's marvellous pictures of the Plague and the 
Fire in his " Old St. Paul's," and the numerous pict- 
uresque studies of Tudor life in his " Tower of Lon- 
don," I should say that Turpin's ride to York was a 
performance altogether within the compass of his ca- 
pacity. 

In " Jack Sheppard " he out-Newgated Bulwer's 
Newgate epics. Every student of criminal annals 
knows that John Sheppard, footpad and housebreaker, 
was a vulgar, squalid, illiterate, drunken scamp, whose 
only talent was one for breaking out of gaol. Ains- 
worth made him a dashing young blood of illicitly 



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NEWGATE NOVELS AND AN APOLOGY 8/ 

noble descent, who dressed sumptuously and lived 
luxuriously; but even had the novelist refrained from 
converting this vulgar gaol-bird into a hero of romance, 
there was quite enough in the vigorous description of 
his escapes from Newgate, and the extraordinarily 
able illustrations thereof by George Cruikshank, to 
delight and enchant a public which had already been 
captivated by the murder and housebreaking scenes 
in ** Oliver Twist," and especially by George's etch- 
ings of the death of Sikes and of Fagin in the con- 
demned cell. Harrison Ainsworth, as is well known, 
assumed the editorship of Bentleys Miscellany when the 
post was relinquished by Dickens, and **Jack Shep- 
pard " followed " Oliver Twist." 

And, now, in concluding that which may appear to 
you, patient readers, to be an intolerably lengthy and 
wholly irrelevant digression, but which is in reality a 
kind of feeble Apology for my life, I must recall that 
scrap in Italian from the " Life of Rienzi:" "From 
his youth he was nourished with the milk of elo- 
quence ; a good grammarian, a better rhetorician, well- 
versed in the writings of authors." I have already 
said that from the beginning of my being conscious of 
the possession of any intellectual faculties, I strove to 
read the very best writers whose works were acces- 
sible to me ; and I was aided by my mother, who 
made me read Rollings " Ancient History " and Vol- 
ney's "Ruins of Empires;" while our intimate and 
afiFectionate friend Mark Beresford Whyte, barrister- 
at-law, whom we first knew in 1838, lent me Guizot's 
" Lectures on Civilisation " in French, and gave me 
Charles Lamb's " Essays of Elia " and Hazlitt's 
" Table Talk." With regard to rhetoric I never had 
a formal lesson on elocution in my life ; but when I 
was between twenty and thirty, Lord Brougham gave 
me some viva voce and inestimably valuable instruction 



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88 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

in the art of public speaking ; and he was led to do so 
through his having heard me make a speech at a 
meeting of a Mechanics* Institute at Huddersfield in 
Yorkshire. I preserve a newspaper report of that 
speech. It turned up the other day in a folio volume 
of old journalistic cuttings ; and I read it with horror, 
but without shame. It was full of tautology and of 
long-tailed words, and fundamentally was, I daresay, 
sound and fury, signifying nothing ; but still, rhetor- 
ically,, it was a speech which could be punctuated, and 
in which the nominative generally found the accus- 
ative case ; and that it was a speech and not a mere 
inconsequential babbling, was simply due to the cir- 
cumstance that, from my earliest childhood, my 
mother always insisted that I should express myself 
with clearness and precision, and always sternly re- 
proved me, if in conversation I did not employ the 
diction which she taught me to use in writing. I was 
not by any means a sententious or pragmatical child ; 
but I could talk plainly and to the purpose, in three 
languages, before ever I went to school ; and this 
habit of plain speaking got me often into dire trouble 
with my parent, who, although she deemed it neces- 
sary, from a literary point of view, that small boys 
should express themselves with lucidity, was naturally 
desperately angry when she found that she had Un- 
consciously cultivated the embryo of a logical faculty 
in the urchin, who as yet had never set eyes on the 
works of Dr. Isaac Watts or Archbishop Whately, and 
who was given on most occasions to arguing the point 
with a lady, who would not seldom resent the freedom 
taken with her by counter argument of a nature very 
inconvenient and sometimes dolorous to small boys. 



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CHAPTER IX 

IN THE GREEN-ROOM 

I WAS familiar in days gone by with a good many 
theatrical green-rooms. I have had the entrde in my 
time to \}^^ foyers of old Covent Garden, of Drury Lane, 
and of the Haymarket. Of the green-room of Her 
Majesty's Theatre, the site of which disestablished 
temple of the lyric drama is now as desolate as the 
walls of Balclutha, I have no definite remembrance. 
There must have been some kind of green-room for the 
corps de ballety and perhaps another one for the ladies 
and gentlemen of the chorus; but the leading vocal 
artistes^ both male and female, were, I should say, in 
the habit at the close of each act of retiring to their 
dressing-rooms. I well remember that Sir Michael 
Costa, during his conductorship at Her Majesty's, 
used, at the close of each act, to seat himself in a large 
fauteuil in the centre of the stage close to the curtain, 
where, for ten minutes or so, he would hold a kind of 
levie^ bestowing judicious praise on the contraltos and 
the sopranos, the tenors, the baritones, and the bassos 
for their exertions during the performance. The praise 
was valuable. It is not only before but behind the 
curtain that true dramatic and lyric artists require ap- 
plause. It is as the air they breathe. If they have it 
not, they die. With the ballet and the shining lights 
thereof. Sir Michael Costa had nothing to do. His 
functions ceased with the finale of the opera, and the 
choregraphic music was under the control of the leader 



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90 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

of the orchestra, usually the first violin, who, in my 
time, was Francois Cramer. 

The green-rooms, however, which I most specially 
remember were those of the St. James's and of the old 
Princess's ; and perhaps you will pardon me if, before 
I narrate my experiences of the apartments to which 
actors and actresses used to repair during the intervals 
of their parts in the play, I venture upon a brief digres- 
sion as to what the word green-room seems to mean. 
If we possessed a work of so graphic and exhaustive 
a nature as M. Arthur Pongin's " Dictionnaire du 
Th6itre " we should be at no loss to find the derivation 
of green-room ; but it remains for Mr. W. Moy Thomas, 
or Mr. Clement Scott, or Mr. William Archer to com- 
pile a Dictionary of the English Theatres. English 
lexicographers who are, as a rule, dull-witted pedants, 
generally ex-schoolmasters, and who rarely possess any 
knowledge of the world, arbitrarily tell us that green- 
rooms are so called from having been originally painted 
or decorated with green. I can find no more sub- 
stantial authority for this statement than Theodore 
Hook's well-known sketch of the first green-room that 
he was ever privileged to enter. It was literally a 
" green "-room into which light was admitted by a thing 
like a cucumber-frame at one end of it : " It was matted, 
and round the walls ran a bench covered with faded 
green stuff, whereupon the dramatis persona deposited 
themselves until called to go on the stage ; a looking- 
glass under the skylight and a large bottle of water and 
a tumbler on the chimney-piece, completed the furniture 
of this classic apartment." 

This is an undeniably graphic portrayal ; yet I have 
known green-rooms the walls of which were decorated 
in white and gold, and which were upholstered in crim- 
son or in blue. I have my own theory as to the origin 
of the term, and although I am aware that stern Pro- 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM 9 1 

fessor Skeat has laid down the canon that surmises are 
not permissible in philology, I am bold enough to ex- 
press my conviction that the dramatic retiring-room 
got its name from the circumstance that in the old days 
of the "legitimate drama" when, during the perform- 
ance of a tragedy, the stage was always laid with a dark 
green cloth or carpet, this cloth, for convenience sake 
when plays, other than tragic, were being acted, used to 
be rolled up, set on end, and kept in iki^ foyer ^ where it 
was easily accessible and was not in the way of the 
scene-shifters and the carpenters. 

Touching the green cloth itself, I have another theory 
which I commend to the attention of the coming com- 
piler of ** A Dictionary of the English Theatre." From 
the Restoration until the beginning of the reign of 
George III., and possibly a little later, it was the cus- 
tom of the nobility and gentry to make gifts of their 
cast-ofif " birth-night " dresses or Court suits to actors 
who had been fortunate enough to gain their favour ; 
and the tragedian who played Hamlet in a full-bottomed 
periwig, a coat of cut velvet, a brocaded waistcoat, and 
crimson-satin smalls, or he who enacted Macbeth in the 
full uniform of a captain in the Guards, did not care 
about spoiling the fine clothes with which his noble 
patron had presented him by falling on the bare and 
dusty boards, but preferred to give up the ghost de- 
corously on a fair expanse of green cloth. 

I very rarely go behind the scenes nowadays, and, 
indeed, I have almost lost my way through the stage- 
door; but I am told that green-rooms are not what 
they used to be, and that in some theatres the apart- 
ments where comedians, critics, and patrician patrons 
of the drama once foregathered have been converted, 
practically speaking, into annexes to the property- 
room. Things were very different in 1838-9 at the St. 
James's and the Haymarket. Let me endeavour to 



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92 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

recall a few of the frequenters of the first-named /^>'/'r. 
My deceased friend Mr. Edmund Yates, in his graphic 
and kindly " Recollections and Experiences," speaks of 
being present at a performance of private theatricals 
at Charles Dickens's London residence, Tavistock 
House, some time in the 'fifties. He was accompanied 
by his mother, the widow of the lessee and manager of 
the old Adelphi Theatre, Frederick Yates, whom I had 
seen in the part of Fagin in Oliver Twist late in the 
'thirties, and who had been, herself, an actress of brill- 
iant talent, especially distinguished as the heroine in 
the drama of Victorine ; oVy I'll Sleep On It. At the 
Tavistock House private theatricals Edmund's parent 
was seated next a tall, grey-haired gentleman, a very 
pleasant talker, who proved to be Mr. Gilbert h, Beck- 
ett, the magistrate and wit. There are a few more 
cursory allusions to Gilbert k Beckett in my lamented 
friend's pleasant pages ; but it does not appear that he 
enjoyed the personal acquaintance of an exceptionally 
gifted and amiable man, a ready and versatile writer, 
and a most intelligent police magistrate. 

It was my lot to be acquainted with Mr. k Beckett 
in my very early boyhood ; and I must first speak of 
him as an habitui of the St. James's green-room. When 
I first knew him as an intimate friend of my mother, 
he could scarcely, I should say, have attained the age 
of thirty. He was the son of a highly respectable 
solicitor in Golden Square ; but whether he was a de- 
scendant of the Saracen maid and the merchant on 
whose romantic union the plot of the " Loving Ballad 
of Lord Bateman " was to all appearance founded, I 
am not prepared to say. Although he was a constant 
sayer of good things, I never met so nervously shy a 
wit as he was; but of the spontaneity of that wit I 
think that I can give a tolerably sufficiftg illustration 
in the anecdote that, having once to reprove a rather 



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IN THE GREEN ROOM 93 

prodigal young kinsman of whom, nevertheless, he 
was very fond, he told him that "he was going to the 
dogs, and that the best thing he could do would be to 
go thither and come back as soon as ever he could." 
The moty to my mind, is as crisp as anything that Doug- 
las Jerrold ever said. 

I have an idea that k Beckett was what in the the- 
atrical parlance of the time was termed " stock-author" 
at the St. James's — that is to say, he wrote extrava- 
ganzas, and occasionally farces and short dramas, for 
a stipulated weekly salary. Planch6 was in like man- 
ner " stock-author " at several London theatres ; nota- 
bly at the old Olympic under the Vestris management, 
and at Covent Garden under the sceptre of Vestris 
and Charles Mathews. For his subsequent Lyceum 
extravaganzas, written for Vestris and Mathews, he 
was, I should say, paid liberally " by the piece ; " but 
there was a stock-author for farces at the last-named 
house in the person of the late William Brough, the 
brother of Robert B. Brough, poet, dramatist, and wit, 
and uncle of that deservedly popular actress, Miss 
Fanny Brough. One of the last stock-authors of any 
note that I can remember in a first-rate London thea- 
tre was Dion Boucicault, who served Charles Kean at 
the Princess's in 1 850-1, and who, while he was taking 
a weekly salary, wrote or adapted for the stage, among 
other pieces, Louis XL^ La Dame de St. Tropcz, The 
Vampire^ and The Corsican Brothers, I should say that 
in the end the iron of stock-authorship— the meagre 
weekly salary and the deprivation of authorial rights 
— entered into Dion Boucicault's soul ; since he was 
destined to bring about a tremendous revolution in 
the system of remunerating dramatists ; and our lead- 
ing playwrights nowadays have ample reason to be 
grateful to the astute author of The Colleen Bawn, who 
insisted that managers should pay their authors a large 



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94 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

percentage on the daily receipts of the house. I hope 
that Mr. G. R. Sims makes as much as ;^5,ooo by a 
comedy or a melodrama. For aught I know he may 
make a great deal more ; but of this I am confident 
that five-and-thirty years ago, and with all the popu- 
larity he justly possesses, he would not have earned as 
much as >f 500 by the very finest piece produced by his 
facile and sparkling pen. 

I shall have a good deal more to say about Gilbert 
Abbot k Beckett in the course of these pages ; but I 
may just mention here that he was called to the Bar 
at which, I think, he rarely practised ; and that after 
a long and brilliant career as a contributor of Punch, 
and as a leader-writer to the Times, he was appointed 
one of the stipendiary police magistrates for the me- 
tropolis. He died, much too soon for friendship, in 
1856. All youthful as he was when I first knew him, 
he had had considerable journalistic and theatrical ex- 
perience, and had been for a short time lessee of the 
Fitzroy Theatre, Fitzroy Street, Tottenham Court 
Road, which, for more than a generation, was one of 
the unluckiest play-houses in London ; but which was 
fated to have a career of almost unexampled prosper- 
ity and celebrity under the management of Mr. and 
Mrs. Bancroft. 

At the age of three or four and twenty, k Beckett 
had been proprietor and editor of a large number of 
short-lived periodicals, among which I may cite The 
Terrific Penny Magazine, The Ghost, The Lover, The 
Gallery of Terrors, The Figaro Monthly, and The Figaro 
Caricature Gallery; while, in a co-partnership with 
Mr. Thomas Littleton Holt, a gentleman of whom I 
shall have to say a good deal later on, he had sought 
the favour of the reading public with Figaro in London, 
The Wag, Dibdin's Penny Trumpet, The Evangelical 
Penny Magazine, Poor Richard' s Journal^ and The Thief 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM 95 

— the last an imitation of the Paris Voleur^ and all of 
them clever and short-lived periodicals. There was a 
^ux of cheap and ephemeral penny weeklies even in 
those far-off days, when there was a heavy paper duty, 
and a tax of no less than eighteenpence on every news- 
paper advertisement ; and among the starters and 
editors of the usually disastrous little ventures, the 
most persistent and the most prolific were Gilbert k 
Beckett, three out of the seven Brothers Mayhew, and 
Thomas Littleton Holt. 

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Carter Hall were also con- 
stant visitors to the St. James's green-room. Mrs. S. 
C. Hall I never knew intimately ; but I was on the 
friendliest terms with her husband almost down to the 
time of his death, in 1889, at the great age of 88. 
When I first knew him, in 1838, he had been subeditor 
of the Britannia, editor of the New Monthly Magazine, 
and was just about to establish the Art Union Journal, 
the parent of the existing Art Journal. The last time 
I saw " Sam *' Hall was in 1878, at the funeral of dear 
old George Cruikshank, at which the late Lord 
Houghton, General McMurdo, S. C. Hall, and the 
present writer were the pall-bearers ; but I frequently 
corresponded with him in the late evening of his 
years. 

There was produced at the St. James's, in Braham's 
time, a drama called The French Refugee, in which I 
think my mother played; but I specially remember 
that the part of the ing/nue was enacted by a singu- 
larly beautiful girl named Alison. She subsequently 
acquired considerable celebrity as an actress. She 
married a Captain Seymour, and many years after- 
wards I met her at dinner at the house of my dear old 
friend Charles Reade, novelist and dramatist, at 
Knightsbridge. I attended her funeral at Willesden. 

Alfred Wigan I have already mentioned, not as a 



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g6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

frequenter of the green-room, but as an actor. Old 
Mr. John Parry, also, father of John Parry, junior, and 
who was himself somewhat noted as a writer on Welsh 
music, was frequently to be seen in the St. James's 
green-room. So was a Mr. Barham Livius, of whom 
I remember little beyond his certainly peculiar name, 
and the fact that he had a head closely resembling 
that of Samuel Rogers, poet and banker — that is to 
say, a death's head. There was likewise a Sir Fortu- 
natus Somebody ; and another gentleman of chivalric 
rank, of whom the rumour ran that he had been 
knighted by William IV., by mistake for somebody else. 
So much for the St. James's green-room. Of that at 
the Haymarket, then under the management of Mr. 
Benjamin Webster, I have not, as regards the period 
in question, much to say. When Braham went to 
pieces, my mother accepted an engagement for a 
short time at the Haymarket ; but she had no kind of 
chance of obtaining appreciation for her talents at the 
" Little Theatre ; " inasmuch as Sheridan Knowles's 
comedy of the Love Chase was in the full tide of its 
splendid success ; and the most that my parent could 
hope for was to be " understudy " to that admirable 
comedienne Mrs. Glover, who played the Widow Green 
in Sheridan Knowles's play. The cast was a sumptu- 
ous one. The elder Farren was Sir William Fondlove, 
Webster was Wildrake, and Mrs. Nisbett, Constance. 
The lovers' quarrel between the last-named couple I 
shall never forget ; and the house used to burst into a 
rapture of applause when Constance, exasperated by 
Wildrake's panegyrics of an imaginary mistress, ex- 
claims : — 

Constance — " She should be — 
Wildrake—''— V^\i^\, ? " 

Constance—*' What you got thrice your share of when at school, and 
yet not half your due." 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM 97 

My mother's engagement came to an abrupt and sad 
termination by her falling sick of the small-pox; and 
months passed before she was quite convalescent. 
We children were sent away with our nurse, Mrs. 
Esner, and my mother's maid Mary Anne, first to a 
house on Richmond Green ; next to one on Clapham 
Common, and ultimately to board and lodge with a 
Mrs. Chesterton in Duchess Street, Portland Place. I 
just mention the names of the faithful servitors to 
whose custody we were consigned with the object of 
briefly drawing attention to the extraordinary change 
which has taken place in the conditions of domestic 
service within the last half century. I think nurse 
Esner was with us full ten years, and Mary Anne Mer- 
riman was the youngest of three sisters — Letitia and 
Emma were the other two — who had been succes- 
sively in my mother's service and only left that service 
to be married to well-to-do tradesmen. The three sis- 
ters were the daughters of a respectable butcher and 
farmer in Leicestershire ; they saw no degradation in 
domestic servitude, and did their work cheerfully, lov- 
ingly, and faithfully, for wages which a modern par- 
lour-maid would laugh to scorn. Letitia, the eldest of 
the three, must have left us about 1835. My mother 
died at Brighton in i860. I brought her remains to 
London, to lay them by the side of my brother Charles 
and my sister Augusta at Kensal Green Cemetery, 
and when the funeral was over, I found, weeping be- 
hind a tombstone, our old, old servant Letitia Merri- 
man. 

My mother was attended during her sore sickness 
by Sir James Clark, one of the Queen's physicians ; by 
Mr. Stone, a well-known practitioner of the time — but 
I do not remember whether he was a physician or a 
surgeon — and by the two Guthries, father and son, 
who had looked after my miserable eyes in my early 
7 



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98 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



childhood. The attack of small-pox, unusually violent 
ill its character, had temporarily deprived my mother 
of her sight ; but she gradually recovered her vision, 
and she has often told me that her first consciousness 
of approaching convalescence was when old Mr. Guth- 
rie, one morning, caused a looking-glass to be placed 
on the bed and bade her to look at herself to see how 

" d d ugly " she was. He was a most humane, 

compassionate, and generous surgeon ; he never took 
one penny fee from us ; but he was a brusque, short- 
tempered gentleman, and he swore freely. 

When quite restored to health, which was, I think, 
about the end of May, 1839, my mother, whose fi- 
nances had been terribly disorganised from her long 
illness, took a benefit at the Haymarket Theatre. The 
principal attraction of the evening was Vanbrugh*s 
comedy of The Provoked Husband — Lord Townley be- 
ing played by William Charles Macready ; while Lady 
Townley was acted by Miss Taylor, afterwards Mrs. 
Walter Lacy. The entertainment concluded with a 
farce in which the inimitable Irish comedian, Tyrone 
Power, took part. All these good and true artists 
gave their services gratuitously ; and in the course of 
the evening some instrumental music was performed 
which was composed by H. R. H. the Prince Consort. 
Her Majesty the Queen honoured my parent with her 
gracious patronage; and she was also supported by 
four constant and generous patronesses, who had 
known her and befriended her ever since her days of 
early widowhood — the Duchess of Sutherland, the 
Duchess of Norfolk, the Marchioness of Westminster, 
and the Countess Stanhope. 

Let me succinctly recall our general state and pros- 
pects in the summer of 1839. My eldest brother Fred- 
erick was, as I have already mentioned, in Paris, study- 
ing the pianoforte under Kalkbrenner ; my second 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM 99 

brother, Charles Kerrison, the godson of the gallant 
General, Sir Edward Kerrison, had been educated at 
the Blue Coat School, where he rose to be " Great 
Erasmus " and Deputy Grecian. He was a ripe Latin, 
Greek, and Hebrew scholar, an admirable penman, a 
skilled elocutionist, and he had more learning and 
more humour in his little finger than I ever had in my 
whole right hand. He would have made a figure in 
the Church, or at the Bar, or in the Indian Civil Ser- 
vice; but for some reason, inscrutable to me, my 
mother removed him from Christ's Hospital, just as 
he was about to be nominated Grecian ; and conse- 
quently he never proceeded to the University. He 
proceeded instead to a desk in the offices of the Edin- 
burgh Life Assurance Company, and a year or two 
later, through the influence of Mr. Somers Cocks, he 
obtained a Government clerkship in the Tithes Com- 
missioners Office, Somerset Place, Somerset House, the 
head of his department being Colonel Dickson of the 
Royal Engineers, a gentleman who, not only then, but 
for years afterwards, treated him with unvarying kind- 
ness. My sister Augusta, who was now fifteen years 
of age, although, poor little soul, she did not look more 
than twelve, was sent, when my mother got well, as a 
day-boarder to an excellent school in Golden Square, 
conducted by a Mrs. Johnson. This lady's husband 
kept a hatter's shop at the corner of Regent Street and 
Vigo Street ; but it was deemed a terrible breach of 
etiquette among Mrs. Johnson's young lady-pupils to 
speak of the emporium at the corner of Vigo Street as 
a shop — they always called it "the warehouse." As 
for my brother Albert, who was two years my senior, 
and who was not a very bright boy, he was sent, first 
to a middle-class school in Bedfordshire, and after- 
wards to one at Clapham, where he had for a school- 
fellow, Mr. Francis Ravenscroft, the present manager. 



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100 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

I apprehend, of the Birkbeck Bank. I mention this 
little circumstance for the reason that, in the course of 
every year I receive large numbers of letters from el- 
derly gentlemen, who claim me as their former school- 
fellow ; then again, I am not unfrequently reminded by 
elderly correspondents that I am an " Old Blue," and 
am asked whether I remember the Public Suppers — 
at which, by the way, my mother used sometimes to 
sing — the Easter excursions to the Mansion House, the 
rigid discipline maintained by Mr. Huggins, the stew- 
ard, and the kindness of heart of Dr. Rice, the head- 
master. 

I was eleven years old when my mother recovered 
from her illness, and I had never been to school. Stay 
— I think that in my very early childhood I was sent 
for a few weeks to a day-school kept by a widow lady 
named Scott — a connection, unless I am mistaken, of 
the well-known artist Scott, of Brighton. My remem- 
brance, however, of this scholastic establishment does 
not extend beyond a hazy impression, but I spent a 
good deal of my time in the delicious society of a large 
paper bag full of those delectable sweetmeats known 
as brandy-balls ; which made me very happy, and, as 
regards my fingers and my face, exceedingly sticky. 
But I should say that my very brief sojourn at Mrs. 
Scott's day-school was just before I went blind, and 
that it was thought more prudent that I should devote 
my attention to lollipops than to learning. 

1 repeat that in the third year of the Queen's reign I 
was eleven years old ; and I can say with the honest 
consciousness that no human being— not even my 
bitterest enemy — could ever accuse me of conceit that 
I was a clever boy. I had not a particle, it is true, of 
imagination, and never had. My parent had unwisely 
refused to allow me to be taught a single note of 
music ; but I had learned by ear nearly every one of 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM lOI 



the melodies in the Italian, French, and English operas 
of the period, and nearly all the songs that were then 
favourites in fashionable society ; and at present, al- 
though my voice is cracked, and my intonation imper- 
fect, I can hum all the tunes which I heard in child- 
hood and in boyhood. My dear brother Charles, fresh 
from the Blue Coat School, had well grounded me in 
Latin and in Greek. I never became a very good Latin 
scholar, but those who surround me and solace me in 
my old age have got all my juvenile Greek exercise 
and copy-books, and could testify, were it necessary, 
that no night passes now without my doing my Greek 
"rubber up of memory" in characters a little more 
crabbed than of yore, but still minute and legible. 
Eight years ago I came home from India in a P. & O. 
on board wjiich the late Sir William Gregory, sometime 
Governor of Ceylon, was also a passenger. I noticed 
that he used to watch me grinding away at the most 
fascinating of all languages in the saloon in the even- 
ing ; and at length he said to me, " That which you do 
after dinner I do before breakfast. I always have an 
hour's Homer in the morning." And Sir William 
Gregory was then sixty-eight years of age. At eleven 
I could speak French ungrammatically but fluently, 
and I can say the same as regards Italian. I could 
draw better than boys of eleven can generally handle 
the pencil, and I was — to conclude — for my age, a very 
well-read boy, especially conversant with history, with 
biography, and with geography and books of travel. 

But I had never been to school, nor even received 
any lessons from a professional tutor. My only in- 
structors had been my sister Augusta and my brother 
Charles, who, when 1839 came, had no longer the 
leisure to teach me. I longed, I yearned, I panted to 
go to school ; to be under the authority and to listen to 
the counsels of some wise and learned man. 1 was an 



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102 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

afifectionate boy ; I loved my parent with my heart and 
soul ; but I chafed at a |>etticoat government, I had an 
uneasy sensation th^t I was not understood, that I was 
often rebuked without cause, and praised when I had 
not deserved commendation. My mother hesitated to 
send me to school for a reason which I am half 
ashamed to give, but which I must needs explain, be- 
cause I wish in this book to be as truthful as ever I 
can. 

The discipline at English schools at this period was 
perhaps not so utterly barbarous as it was in the days 
when it used to be said humorously of Dr. Parr " that 
he kept a private slaughter-house at Alton, as he 
had kept slaughter-houses before at Stanmore, at Col- 
chester, and at Norwich ; " but that discipline was still 
to a great extent ferocious. I was eager to go to 
school, but I shuddered at the idea of being beaten. 
My mother, the kindest, the best, and the most de- 
voted of parents, was still the daughter of a slave- 
owner, and had inherited not a little of the slave-own- 
er's partiality for the lash. To her other children she 
was a severe mother ; to me, she was generally mild ; 
probably because I was the youngest of her children, 
and next because, in my early years I was a miserable 
little invalid. I do not remember that between the 
ages of five and ten I was corporally punished more 
than five times ; but every one of those chastisements 
burned into my soul as though I had been torn with 
red-hot pincers, or seared with a branding iron. It 
was the degradation and not the pain of the punish- 
ment that I felt. When I was eleven and had become 
a serious, thinking, logical and kenning boy, much of 
my life became an Inferno to me. I was not beaten ; 
but I was continually threatened with the scourge, I 
was continually menaced with being sent to some 
strict school ; and rods and canes and straps were con- 



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IN THE GREEN-ROOM IO3 



tinually, figuratively speaking, brandished before my 
eyes. 

I was always a nervous boy ; and at last, through 
sheer nervous tension, I fell into a lethargic, tottering, 
and trembling state of ill-health approaching that 
which the French call a maladie de langueur. I ceased 
to take pleasure in my beloved books and my equally 
beloved pen-and-ink drawings; and would brood for 
hours, crouching in a chair, to be rebuked for sulki- 
ness, or threatened with punishment for idleness. I 
was neither sulky nor wilfully idle. I was only 
wretched ; and my young heart had been taken out of 
me. Something had to be done. I was ashamed to 
tell the doctors the cause of my misery, so a conseil de 
famille was summoned. My aunt Sophy, who kept a 
school somewhere near Lisson Grove, and who was a 
disciplinarian, opined that the only way of meeting 
my case was a liberal application of the stick. My 
aunt Eliza held that I ought to be sent into the coun- 
try ; and that plenty of new-laid eggs, new milk, and 
apple pie would soon restore me to health and 
strength. But my dear cousin Elise and my dearest 
cousin Sara, both West Indians, and the daughters of 
slave-owners, and who probably understood the pe- 
culiarities of my case much better than any other of 
my relations did, pointed out that I loved learning, 
and that it was absolutely necessary that my studies 
should be directed by an experienced and capable 
teacher of my own sex. 

Furthermore, they remarked that I was already ti 
tolerable linguist, and that my capacity for learning 
languages ought to be diligently encouraged and de- 
veloped. Finally, my cousin Sara said that she kne.w 
a Madame Dizi, an English lady who had married an 
eminent French harpist, and who lived in the Pare 
Mon^eaux, Paris. Madame Dizi, she would be bound, 



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I04 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

would soon find a iirst-rate school for me in the French 
capital, and in French schools, she concluded, every- 
body knew that no corporal punishment whatever was 
inflicted. An immense load of agony and terror was 
removed from my mind when these good words were 
uttered by my cousin Sara; and my mother, after 
much cogitation, gave her consent to my being sent 
to school in France so soon as one had been found 
by Madame Dizi. Fortunately, we were in funds at 
the time ; by her benefit at the Haymarket, my mother 
had realised more than ;f 300 ; and it luckily happen- 
ing that two of her former pupils got married that 
season, she was able to make a handsome addition to 
our modest pecunium by the commission she received 
from a well-known firm of pianoforte manufacturers 
for two grand pianofortes, which she purchased to the 
account of the happy brides. 



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CHAPTER X 

SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS 

We came back to England, to my intense sorrow and 
disgust, early in 1841. I say sorrow and disgust, be- 
cause I was getting on very well at school, and in- 
dulged in lively hopes of getting on better. It was a 
school of hard work ; and I should say that, what with 
composing my daily themes, construing my Latin and 
Greek lessons, attending the mathematical and draw- 
ing classes, and preparing at the boarding-house, in 
the evening, the morrow's Ussons, I studied on the 
average full eight hours a day. 

We had a very large playground at the pension in 
the Rue de Courcelles; but the cricket-field was 
wholly unknown to us. In the winter we drove hoops 
or chased the flying ball; in the summer we played 
marbles and battledore-and-shuttlecock ; and there was 
also a game tolerably popular with us, called aux 
barres, a kind of prisoner's base. On the whole, I do 
not think that we played much. It was not then the 
fashion for French schoolboys to join in any pastimes 
of the violent sort, such as fobtball, or running, or leap- 
ing. Such a thing as a pugilistic encounter was never 
heard of among the boys ; and the most serious trouble 
into which I got during my scholastic career in Paris 
was due to my having thrown, at Christmas-time, a 
snowball at one of my schoolfellows. The cheery mis. 
sile hit him on the nose, but otherwise did him no 
harm ; but it seemed that I had outraged the dignity 
of the youthful Gaul, who lodged a formal complaint 



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I06 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

against me with the Prefect of Studies for having 
been guilty of votes de fait and the employment ol force 
viajeure ; and I know not how many hundreds of lines 
of Virgil I had to write out in expiation of that un- 
fortunate snowball escapade. 

I have told you that there was no kind of corporal 
punishment at the French school to which I was fort- 
unate enough to be sent ; but if there was no birch, 
there was certainly a disagreeable amount of black- 
hole for serious offences ; and as the cachet, or solitary 
cell, assigned to offenders, was supposed to be infested 
by rats — I do not believe that such was really the case 
— you may imagine that many an English schoolboy- 
would have preferred a sound thrashing to three days 
in the cachet on bread and water. As a solace for the 
strictness of the discipline maintained, we had plenty of 
leave, and enjoyed almost a relative freedom with the 
London Blue Coat boys in roaming about the streets 
of Paris, and we often went to the opera or to the 
play — amusements that were forbidden to the Blue 
Coat boys of half a century ago. 

One visit to the theatre made by the inmates of the 
Pension Henon in a body, numbering, I should say, 
about eighty, to a certain tiny theatre in the Passage 
Choiseul, I shall not readily forget. In this miniature 
salle a whole block of seats in the pit had been secured 
for us ; and one summer afternoon, immediately after 
dinner — say six p.m. — we were marched down to the 
Passage Choiseul, escorted by the Prefect of Studies 
and by three //V?;^^, or under-ushers — forlorn, dejected 
creatures, who had nothing to do with teaching the 
boys, but whose duties were to keep silence during 
the evening hours of study ; to watch them during 
prayers ; to report all cases of misconduct to the pro- 
prietors of the pension, and generally to act as spies 
and delaters. These piens were hated, despised, and 



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SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS lO/ 

snubbed by the school generally ; and by the bigger 
pupils they were often openly bullied and defied. To 
my mind they merited much more encouragement 
than hostility — much more compassion than con- 
tumely. It was not their fault that they had got them- 
selves into that galley. The pton of the period — I hope 
his lot has been improved in modern times — was usu- 
ally a social failure, an innocent " duffer." 

One specially mournful type of the class I vividly 
recollect. He was a large, long, shambling being, 
with a scrubby red head, and a pasty visage plenti- 
fully adorned with freckles. He had bleared eyes, 
two left legs — so to speak — and large bony hands with 
the finger-nails always in half mourning. He had been 
academically educated at the College Louis Le Grand, 
I think, but had failed in each and every career which 
he had essayed. Junior clerk to a notary ; actor, /cru 
vain publique ; assistant to a quack doctor, employ^ in 
the Pbmpes Fuhkbres ; bookkeeper in a bureau de nour- 
rices — he had been everything by turns, and nothing 
long, till he subsided into the lowly state of 2ipion in a 
scholastic /^«ji^«. ^^ Est que cest ma faute si je suis un 
ganachef he would sometimes plaintively ask. His 
name, if I remember right, was Baquet. What are 
you to do with a man of the name of Baquet? 

The performances at the Th6itre Comte, which in 
1839 was the name of the Liliputian play-house in the 
Passage Choiseul, began early : in fact, it was a theatre 
tor children. Comte was a notable conjurer of the 
First Napoleonic era, who had taken the small house 
called " Le Theatre des Jeunes El^ves," and renamed it 
after himself. Of the pieces played on the night of our 
visit I can only remember that one was about Freder- 
ick the Great and a youthful page who had a mother ; 
and that the generosity of the illustrious monarch to 
his youthful servitor made us all weep plentifully. 



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I08 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

But it is the audience and not the performance that 
dwells in my mind. Among my schoolfellows in the 
pit were the two young sons of Casimir Delavigne, 
•poet and dramatist; a son of Dumanoir, a prglific vau- 
devillist ; and a son of Jaime, another versatile drama- 
turge of the period. But there was another, son of a 
noted dramatic author, and one destined to achieve the 
brightest fame both as a novelist and a writer for the 
stage. This was a shapely young fellow, who in 1839 
must have been about sixteen. He had very light blue- 
grey eyes and an abundance of very light auburn hair, 
which curled in rather a frizzled mass. The name of 
this youth was Alexandre Dumas, and he was the son 
of the renowned author of " Les Trois Mousquetaires," 
and of " Le Comte de Monte Cristo." Among the arti- 
cles, the use of which was for some absurd reason or 
another forbidden to us pensionnaireSj was an opera- 
glass ; and young Alexandre Dumas, who was at the 
back of the pit, and who was, I believe, naturally short- 
sighted, coolly produced such a forbidden object, and 
began to scan Frederick the Great and his page be- 
hind the foot-lights. The mutinous act was at once 
perceived and resented by the Prefect of Studies. " A 
has le lorgnon^ Monsieur Dumas J it has le lorgnon I " he 
exclaimed in wrathful tones. Unprophetical prefect! 
Little could the pedant, unendowed with foresight, 
know that the lad who had violated the school regula- 
tions by using a lorgnon was destined to be the author 
of " Le Demi-Monde " and " La Dame aux Cam61ias." 

My mother had come to London during the sum- 
mer season of 1840 to give a round of singing lessons 
among her old clientele ; and, returning to Paris in the 
late autumn, she gave a grand concert at the Salon 
Frascati, which only two years previously had been 
finally disestablished as a public gaming-house by the 
Paris Municipalit3\ Frascati was at the angle of the 



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SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS IO9 



Boulevard and the Rue de Richelieu. The edifice 
was, I think, pulled down in 1841, and all kinds of con- 
structions, dedicated to all kinds of purposes, had been 
installed on the site of the famous pavilions and gar- 
dens ; but the grand saloon in which my mother held 
her concert had been the identical apartment in which 
the enterprising speculator M. Benazet — afterwards of 
the Kursaal, Baden-Baden — had carried on, with such 
immense profit to himself, the pleasing game of trente- 
eUquarante ; while the apartment which my mother 
converted into a refreshment-room had been the one 
devoted to roulette; and yet another smaller salon, 
which for the nonce she utilised as a withdrawing- 
room for the artistes^ had been in the time of Bour- 
sault, the predecessor of Benazet, a select little inferno, 
in which the game exclusively played was creps, or 
crabs — a game of dice — at present, I should say, alto- 
gether obsolete. The concert was under the immedi- 
ate patronage of the then British ambassadress. Lady 
Granville, who came to the Salon Frascati with his 
Excellency and the whole staflF of the Embassy, the 
latter including, if I mistake not, a principal secretary 
by the name of Henry Lytton Bulwer, the brother ot 
the illustrious novelist, the first Earl of Lytton, and 
who himself was afterwards to be Lord Dalling. 

For the accommodation of the ambassadress — how 
manners change ! and how we change with them ! — 
my mother caused to be erected in the saloon — where 
once the monotonous voice of the donneur de cartes had 
been heard hundreds of times a day : " Rouge perd et 
cpuleur^' or '^Rougegagne, couleur perd'' — a kind of throne 
on a kaut-paSy upholstered in crimson and gold and 
surmounted by the Royal Arms of England. So her 
Excellency sat in her chair of state ; and in the inter- 
vals of the songs and the concerted pieces the beau 
nionde and the members of the carps diplomatique came 



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no LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



to pay their court to the consort of the exceptionally 
popular representative of Queen Victoria. 

A large number of distinguished vocal and instru- 
mental artistes performed at this, to us, memorable 
musical festival. Giulietta Grisi, then in the noon- 
tide of her beauty and her genius, sang ; so did Tam- 
burini, the great baritone ; so did Lablache, the re- 
nowned basso. Malibran — the divine Malibran — was 
dead ; but among our cantatrici was her sister, Pauline 
Garcia, a singer of wonderful compass of voice, who 
early retired from the exercise of her profession to 
become the wife of Monsieur Louis Viardot, the dis- 
tinguished art-collector and critic. My mother real- 
ised a large sum of money by this concert ; although 
it was with no very agreeable feelings that she re- 
ceived on the morrow of the function a summons from 
the Bureau d* Assistance Publique to disburse a sum 
amounting to several hundreds of francs : being a per- 
centage on her receipts as the droits des pauvres, or 
portion of the poor. I wonder what our London 
theatrical managers and concert organisers would 
think if they were called upon to pay such a percent- 
age on their nightly takings? To be sure, there are 
no regular poor-rates payable by all householders, in 
France. 

In the winter of 1840 my mother went a great deal 
into society in Paris ; and from time to time I obtained 
an exeat, or " pass,'* from my pension, and was taken 
out to soirees and receptions in the great world. In 
particular do I remember many happy evenings passed 
at the apartments, in the Rue Tronchet, close to the 
Church of the Madeleine, of Lady Harriet D'Orsay. 
She was a very beautiful lady, who had been Miss 
Harriet Gardiner, a daughter of the Earl of Blessing- 
ton, but not by the literary Countess. She espoused 
en premieres noces that king of dandies, Alfred, Count 



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SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS III 

D'Orsay, the son of le beau D'Orsay, one of Napoleon's 
favourite generals ; but the domestic virtues were not 
in Count Alfred's line ; and I believe that the couple 
separated for good after a few weeks of matrimonial 
bliss — if any bliss there were in the business. Lady 
Harriet, some years afterwards, married Mr. Spencer 
Cowper, and was justly esteemed for her piety and 
philanthropy by the English colony in Paris. 

I remember her as a charming lady, with lustrous 
eyes, who dressed her hair in what I have always held 
to be the most fascinating fashion — a bunch of ringlets 
on each side of the head, such as you see in the por- 
traits of Henrietta Maria, and in those of some of the 
beauties of the Court of Charles II. Lady Harriet 
D'Orsay was really the heroine of a story which has 
been told in at least twenty forms of twenty different 
ladies of fashion. She was presiding at a stall at a vente 
de ckarit^j or bazaar, held in aid of the funds of some 
asylum or another, when there came up the young 
Duke of Orleans, son and heir of King Louis Philippe. 
The Duke, after some polite small talk, began to extol 
the beauty of her hair; and, indeed, her Henrietta 
M2iTi2i coiffure had never looked glossier and softer than 
it did this day. " Oh ! " said His Royal Highness, " if I 
could only possess one of those enchanting ringlets ! " 
"How much would Monseigneur give for one?" 
asked Lady Harriet, gravely, " Five thousand francs?" 
" Five thousand francs ! " repeated the Duke ; " A mere 
bagatelle I " " Six thousand francs ? " " Anything so 
charming a lady chose to ask." ** I will not be extor- 
tionate," pursued Lady Harriet ; " We will say five 
thousand." And then she very composedly produced 
a dainty little pair of scissors ; snipped off the ador- 
able Henrietta Maria ringlet; wrapped it in silver 
paper, and handed it, with a smile and a curtsey full 
of graceful dignity, to the Duke. His Royal High- 



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112 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

ness looked very straight down his nose ; and return- 
ing Lady Harriet's salute, stalked, somewhat gloomily, 
away. But his Privy Purse duly forwarded the money 
next day. I can imagine that the agonies of the fru- 
gal, not to say parsimonious, King Louis Philippe, 
when he heard of this prodigality on the part of the 
heir to the Crown, must have been shocking to con- 
template. 

Now you will understand how sorry I was to be 
suddenly torn from my beloved Paris, from the stud- 
ies in which I delighted, and the society which, to my 
young mind, seemed so beautiful, so refined, and so 
intellectual. We were driven out of France mainly 
through rumours of war between France and England, 
and the alarmist representations of our friend Tam- 
burini. There was, indeed, not only the usual display 
of rancour against England in the columns of the 
French press — rancour accentuated by the BritisK 
operations in Syria and the capture of St. Jean d'Acre 
by Sir Charles Napier; but popular feeling among 
the masses, of a nature hostile to this country, was al- 
most universally rife. I had a hard time of it at col- 
lege and at my boarding-house ; normally, I used to 
be worried and heckled in consequence of the base 
conduct of Marshal Bliicher and the Prussians in com- 
ing up instead of General Grouchy and the French at 
the battle of Waterloo. But towards the end of 1840 
these inimical sentiments became further embittered 
by all kinds of absurd calumnies touching our pro- 
ceedings in the East — how we had unjustly arrested 
French subjects and fired upon French hospitals and 
lazarettos. An additional grievance against England 
was the madcap expedition of Prince Louis Napoleon 
Bonaparte to Boulogne. At the time of the occur- 
rence of this crazy escapade the French were positive- 
ly deifying the memory of Napoleon the Great, whose 



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SCHOOLDAYS IN PARIS II 3 

remains were being brought from St. Helena to France 
for interment in the Invalides, and whose second fun- 
eral I witnessed. 

Yet, for all this, the French were savagely angry 
that the Bonapartist plot should have been hatched in 
London ; and this anger was aggravated to the point 
of exasperation by the circumstance that the Prince 
and his more or less disreputable followers had landed 
in France from a British steamer, specially chartered 
for the voyage, and called The Edinburgh Castle, Night 
after night disorderly crowds assembled in front of 
the British Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg St. Ho- 
nor6, yelling for " le sang de Milord Granville^' and even 
" le sang de Patten " — the only fault of poor Mr. Patten 
being that he was one of the medical attendants of the 
Embassy, and that his residence was just opposite 
Lord Granville's hotel. My mother lived hard by, in 
the Rue de la P6pini6re, and she became so terrified 
with the nightly disturbances in the Faubourg, and 
the alarmist representations of Tamburini — who de- 
clared that war was imminent, that he had sold all his 
money out of the French rentes — that she hastily re- 
moved my sister from the convent where her educa- 
tion was being completed ; took me away from my col- 
lege in the Rue St. Lazare, and from my pension in the 
Rue de Courcelles, and so packed up and departed, 
bag and baggage — my eldest brother being one of the 
party — to Boulogne, and so to Dover. 



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CHAPTER XI 

PROVINCIAL THEATRICALS 

There was no Lord Warden Hotel at Dover in those 
days ; and the railway to London, although consider- 
able progress had been made in the work, was, in 1841, 
very far from completion. It was, I think, at a com- 
fortable old hostelry by the side of " The Gun," kept 
by an old-fashioned worthy named Hipgrave, that we 
first took up our quarters : subsequently removing to 
furnished apartments in Snargate Street, opposite the 
Heights, the little summer-houses on the gentle slopes 
of which used to fill me with huge delight. I do not 
think that my mother's finances were at the time in a 
very prosperous condition. School and boarding and 
lodging bills had swallowed up the bulk of the profits 
of the grand concert at the Salon Frascati ; my eldest 
brother was a rather expensive young man ; and in so 
desperate a hurry had we been to leave the fair land 
of France that we had dispensed with the diligence and 
travelled post in a berline de voyage — a mode of locomo- 
tion which cost a good deal of money. Be it as it 
may, my mother found it necessary to do something 
to keep the domestic pot-au-feu simmering. My dear, 
indefatigable parent had not altogether run out of 
funds ; so she thought that she might utilise a portion 
of her small remaining capital by helping to " run " the 
Theatre Royal, Dover, an exiguous play-house, the 
fortunes of which, like those of many other provincial 
theatres of the period, had been for a considerable time 
in a simply deplorable condition. 



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PROVINCIAL THEATRICALS II 5 

One of the recent lessees had been Mr. Henry Wal- 
lack, a respectable melodramatic actor, Avho — Henry — 
is best remembered, perhaps, in theatrical annals 
through the curious slip which he once inadvertently 
made in his grammar, while playing the part of Grind- 
off in the melodrama — formerly so dear to the juvenile 
proprietors of toy theatres — of The Milter and his Men. 
In an early scene of the play, Grindoff has to ask one 
of the banditti, disguised as millers, the question, " Are 
those sacks disposed of?" But, confusing his words 
in an almost incomprehensible manner — for he was a 
well-educated man — he said, " Is them sacks disposed 
of?" To which the brigand-miller promptly — too 
promptly, as it turned out in the long run — replied, 
" Yes, they am." He laughs best who laughs last. 
The brigand had his joke; but Harry Wallack was 
stage-manager, and very speedily the maladroit wag 
got the " sack." The gentleman who played Grindoff 
was a brother of that superb actor James Wallack, 
who, after a long and brilliant career in England, took 
up his abode in the United States, where, at New 
York, he founded " Wallack's Theatre," in the man- 
agement of which he was succeeded by his accom- 
plished son, the late Lester Wallack. All the young 
Wallacks, sons of James, were friends of my brother 
Charles and myself. More than one of them, I think, 
held commissions in the army, and one was for some 
time Governor of Millbank Prison. They were fine, 
dashing, chivalric young fellows, as handsome as their 
handsome sire. The last time that I saw James Wal- 
lack, then grown very old and feeble, was at the house 
of his son Lester, at New York, in 1864; and the lat- 
ter told me that when his father went to the States he 
had accidentally taken with him the manuscript of a 
novel which 1 had written at the mature age of thir- 
teen, and which bore the attractive, although not very 



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Il6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

refined, title of " Jenny Jenkins ; or, the Adventures of 
a Sweep." I would give something to have a glance 
at that manuscript now; since the thing must have 
been written at Dover just after our return from 
France, and it must have been full of the most appall- 
ing Gallicisms. 

Mr. H. Wallack could do nothing at all with the 
Theatre Royal, Dover, and to him succeeded a Miss 
Caroline Darling — a tall and attenuated young lady, 
who was supposed to excel in "pantaloon parts." I 
scarcely think that her surname was really Darling ; but 
the name was then one to conjure with, owing to the 
popular enthusiasm excited by the heroism of Grace 
Darling, the dauntless daughter of the northern light- 
house-keeper. Poor Miss Caroline Darling ! Saturday 
after Saturday would " the ghost " decline to " walk " 
in her treasury ; but she was valiant, although impe- 
cunious, and on Saturday afternoons would sit on a 
rickety chair, in the middle of the stage, with an open 
and empty reticule on her lap, sobbing, " Tear me piece- 
meal ; take my gown, my shawl, my boots ; but stick to 
me for another week." The company — there were 
"stock" companies in the provinces in those days — 
were loyal to their luckless manageress. The low 
comedian used to make a little money by singing comic 
ditties at a public-house " free-and-easy " after the per- 
formance was over; the heavy tragedian gave lessons 
in elocution at a neighbouring boarding-school for 
young ladies ; I suspect that the leading lady did a little 
remunerative business on her own account in bonnet- 
building and dress-making ; and the " walking gentle- 
man," I have reason to know, did under the circum- 
stances extremely well ; for he lodged at a butcher's in 
Snargate Street, and made love to the butcher's 
daughter. 

My mother came so far as she was able to the assist- 



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PROVINCIAL THEATRICALS II7 



ance of the embarrassed manageress ; and the business 
beginning slightly to improve through the arrival of a 
new regiment in the garrison, we brought out a new 
comedy, called The Yellow Rose. It was a translation 
from a French piece, La Rose Jaune ; and in preparing 
the English version I think that my mother, my brother 
Frederick, my sister, and myself all had a share. I 
know that I made a fair copy of the piece, and wrote 
out all the parts, " cues " and all. The Yellow Rose was 
not, dramatically speaking, a success, although the 
officers of the new regiment mustered in force in the 
dress-circle. The stage manager, indeed, had the cour- 
age to come before the curtain at the conclusion of the 
play, and to announce that it would be repeated until 
further notice ; whereupon one of the nine occupants 
of the gallery called out in a resonant, but scarcely 
amicable, voice, " Not by no means." Exit The Yellow 
Rose. So far as my memory serves me, Miss Caroline 
Darling faded away shortly afterwards into the in- 
finities. 

She was succeeded by a Mr. W. H. Copeland, a really 
capable actor of established reputation, who, some years 
afterwards, became lessee and manager of the Theatre 
Royal, Liverpool, and realised, I have been told, a 
handsome competence. To him is attributed the say- 
ing that he was the only manager in England who had 
thoroughly honest check- takers and money - takers ; 
" and yet," Mr. Copeland was accustomed, reflectively 
to add, " they all buy freehold houses out of salaries of 
fifteen shillings a week." In 1841, Mr. Copeland was 
verging upon middle-age and inclined to be stout ; his 
wife, who was slender, was a 'charming lady ; had per- 
haps a slightly too strong penchant for playing Ophelia 
and Juliet, when perhaps parts of a more matronly type 
would have suited her better. One of Mr. Copeland's 
earliest ventures was Hamlet^ and he unexpectedly 



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Il8 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

found a promising young debutant for the character of 
the Prince of Denmark in my second brother, Charles 
Kerrison, who, being full of animal spirits, had engaged 
with a lively race with the constable in London, and 
had managed to outrun that functionary. 

Harried by usurers at Somerset House, just as An- 
thony TroUope tells us in his " Autobiography " that 
he was harried, my brother Charles had not been strong 
enough to battle with the sixty-percenters, and had re- 
signed his post in the Civil Service, which, I believe, 
he had always cordially disliked. At all events he be- 
came, before he was twenty-one, a gentleman at large, 
with a strong leaning towards adopting the stage as a 
profession. He had played many parts in amateur 
theatricals at a semi-private theatre in Catherine Street, 
Strand. Of course, when he joined us at Dover, he 
was anxious to enact Hamlet the Dane. Juvenile tra- 
gedians have displayed such an anxiety ever since the 
days of David Garrick ; so at least we are told in the 
memoirs of that mighty actor. My brother Charles 
was really a splendid reciter of blank verse ; and in one 
respect he resembled the original impersonator of the 
Royal Dane, for he was fat and scant of breath. Mr. 
Copeland, however, saw much promise in him, and 
Hamlet was speedily put in rehearsal ; Mrs. Copeland 
being, of course, the Ophelia, and my mother playing 
the Queen ; while the middle-aged manager contented 
himself with the part of the Ghost. There is a dra- 
matic legend that the original Ghost was Shakespeare 
himself ; and I remember that my friend John HoUings- 
head once expressed his entire belief in this legend, and 
cited it as a typical illustration of the business astute- 
ness of the poet, who was manager as well as actor. 
" You see," observed Mr. Hollingshead, " there is a very 
long wait between the appearance of the Ghost on the 
platform of the Castle Elsinore and its turning up again 



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PROVINCIAL THEATRICALS 1 19 

in the closet scene. Now, what did Shakespeare do 
but throw a cloak over his armour, and take a quiet 
stroll downstairs to make sure that he was not being 
robbed by his employes in the front of the house.'* 

There was a difficulty with respect to the martial 
panoply of the deceased Majesty of Denmark at the 
Theatre Royal, Dover. Mr. Copeland had no armour 
of his own, and the wardrobe was in an almost wholly 
denuded state ; but my eldest brother, who was a ca- 
pable modeller and draughtsman, came to the rescue 
and very soon fitted the Ghost with a full suit of ar- 
mour made from stout pasteboard, neatly covered 
with tinfoil. It served very well on the first night of 
performance, only through the breaking of the strings 
of the Ghost's helmet, he experienced considerable 
difficulty in keeping his beaver up. 

The Copeland management did not last long ; and 
the company, with their manager, went away in a 
body and in a hurry to try their luck at various towns 
along the south coast. My mother was not discour- 
aged ; she gave a masquerade at the theatre, and this 
was succeeded by a grand ball at a place called, I be- 
lieve, the Apollonian Rooms. This last function was 
attended by nearly all the officers of the garrison in 
full uniform. The county families came in from 
Folkestone and Hythe and Sandgate, and Snargate 
Street on the night of the ball was blocked with trav- 
elling carriages and postchaises ; and my mother 
made such a comfortable sum of money that she felt 
herself equipped for the London season, and made 
preparations for the migration of herself and family to 
town. I have only one other memory of Dover. I 
had seen in Paris the grandiose interment of Marshal 
Macdonald, Duke of Tarento, and the infinitely more 
interesting second funeral of Napoleon the Great ; but 
it was from our drawing-room window in Snargate 



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1 20 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Street that I beheld, for the first time, an English mili- 
tary funeral. It was that of an assistant surgeon in 
the 54th Foot, who had been killed, inadvertently it 
turned out, by some' rough in a brawl at a fair, and 
the remains of the poor gentleman were laid to earth 
with due martial honours. Very many have been the 
famous funerals of which I have been a spectator since 
1 841 : the Duchess of Kent, the Prince Consort, the 
blind King of Hanover, Field-Marshal Sir John Bur- 
goyne. Lord Palmerston, Lord Macaulay, Robert 
Stephenson, Sir Edwin Landseer, the Tsar Alexander 
IL of Russia, the Emperor Napoleon IIL, the poor 
Prince Imperial, the Duke of Clarence — ^all these and 
many other notable personages have I seen interred ; 
yet does that dwell abidingly in my memory the 
image of that quiet funeral cartige in Snargate Street, 
Dover — The dead man's cocked hat and sword lying 
on the Union Jack which was the pall of his coffin ; 
the muffled drums and instruments of the band play- 
ing the " Dead March in Saul ; " the firing party with 
arms reversed. 



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CHAPTER XII 

BACK IN LONDON 

It was with summary diligence that Caesar came into 
Gaul. As diligently did we proceed from the town of 
Caesar's citadel to the shores of the Thames, only, as 
my mother's cash-box was not altogether equivalent to 
the military cash of the Tenth Legion, we were fain to 
be very frugal in our journey to the metropolis. We 
travelled from Dover to Canterbury by stage-coach, 
all our heavy baggage being sent on to London by the 
humble, but in those days, indispensable necessary 
waggon. Then, my mother and my eldest brother 
proceeded to Heme Bay in a postchaise ; and we chil- 
dren followed in an anomalous vehicle drawn by two 
horses which was half a coach and half a fly ; the 
driver of the vehicle seeming himself somewhat diffi- 
dent in defining its character. He spoke of it as 
" conveyance." Of Heme Bay I remember nothing 
save a prodigiously protracted pier, very soon to be 
immortalised in the pages of the not yet nascent 
Punch. Strangely enough, I have never set foot in the 
favourite watering-place since the spring of 1841. 

At Heme Bay we took steamer for London ; it was 
not the first time that I had seen the great forests of 
shipping in the Pool, since it was by the Thames that 
we had travelled to Boulogne on our way to Paris in 
1839 5 but it was on the return journey that my eldest 
brother pointed out to me two objects which, I know 
not why, obstinately refuse to be erased from my 
memory. One was a long, low-built steamer; and 



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122 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

, when I innocently asked where her paddle - boxes 
might be, I was told that the vessel was propelled by 
an Archimedian screw ; the other was a sailing vessel, 
a three-master with a hull, not black, but dark grey, 
and close to her bows were painted in red and in very 
large characters a broad arrow and the figure " 14." 
The three-master, my brother told me, was a convict 
ship ; had she any name, I wonder, besides " 14 " ? 
She had a sailing skipper, my brother continued, but 
no captain commandant; the superintendent of the 
convicts being a surgeon in the Royal Navy. 

After a few days spent in a then very comfortable 
hostelry, the " Golden Cross," Charing Cross, and a 
week in a boarding-house in Pan ton Square, Hay- 
market, where, like the traveller at Stony Stratford, 
we were most terribly bitten by fleas, we settled down 
in our old happy hunting ground in the Quadrant ; 
our apartments being this time at the house of a sta- 
tioner named Drewitt. There I made acquaintance 
with a most ingenious machine for cutting envelopes, 
which now universally used accessories to correspond- 
ence were, until the penny postage system became 
firmly established, very rarely made use of. In the 
days before envelopes, people who had very short 
epistles to write, and who did not care about devoting 
a whole sheet of paper to the purpose, used to double 
up half a sheet, scribble their communications there- 
upon, and fold up the missive in a triangular form, the 
base being considerably longer than the sides. These 
triangular letters which, if dexterously folded, could 
be securely sealed or wafered, were known as " cocked- 
hat notes," but they were rarely posted. With the 
introduction of adhesive postage -stamps and cheap 
postage itself, came another great revolution in the na- 
tional correspondence. Peers and Members of Parlia- 
ment were no longer importuned for " franks " — being 



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BACK IN LONDON 123 



their autographs covering the cost of postage ; and the 
" frank-hunter " practically disappeared, to be resusci- 
tated, however, in another incarnation as the present 
and equally objectionable autograph fiend. 

In the course of 1842 we saw a great deal of the de- 
lightful Irish composer Michael William Balfe and of 
his wife and family, who occupied the upper part of a 
house in Conduit Street. Balfe was oscillating at the 
time between London and Paris, in which last-named 
city in 1843 he produced his opera Les Puits (T Amour ; 
the libretto being written by MM. Scribe and Saint 
Georges. Madame Lina Balfe, the composer's wife, 
was, I think, a lady of Hungarian extraction, and had 
been originally a professional cantatrice ; she had, how- 
ever, long left the operatic stage, and, apart from the 
loving care which she bestowed on her young chil- 
dren, her principal occupation in life seemed to be that 
of being jealous of Balfe, who, I am afraid, gave her 
plenty of cause for listening to the promptings of the 
green-eyed monster. I think it was towards the end 
of 1 841 that I heard Balfe sing in his own opera of 
Keolanthe at the English Opera House, at present the 
Lyceum, and of which he was then the lessee. The 
speculation was a disastrous one, and Balfe lost all the 
money he had made and got heavily into debt besides. 
He had, when I first knew him, three children : Louisa, 
who afterwards married a German gentleman named 
Behrend ; Victoria, who had a very sweet voice, but 
one, unfortunately, not quite strong enough for the 
lyric stage, and who married first Sir John Crampton, 
H.B.M.'s Minister at St. Petersburg — he had previ- 
ously been Minister at Washington, and I knew him 
afterwards as Minister at Madrid — and, secondly, the 
Duke of Frias, a grandee of Spain, of the very bluest 
blood, whose father had been Ambassador Extraordi- 
nary to England at the Coronation of Queen Victoria. 



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124 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



When I went to Madrid in 1865 and renewed my ac- 
quaintance with " Vicky," now become a duchess, I 
was taken over the stables at the Duke's palatial resi- 
dence, and there I was shown the coche de gala, the 
splendidly decorated state carriage in which the Am- 
bassador Extraordinary had ridden to Westminster 
Abbey. 

Louisa and Victoria Balfe were the playmates of 
my sister and myself. There was also in 1842-3 a 
little mite of a son, known in the nursery as " Boy," 
but who, according to his baptismal certificate, was 
Michael William Balfe. He obtained in early man- 
hood a commission in the Indian Army, but to judge 
from certain distressing circumstances recently made 
public, Fortune consistently refused to smile on Mr. 
Michael William Balfe, who appears to have been in 
many respects a counterpart of the fable " Murad the 
Unlucky/' 

Although my mother had retained many of her 
aristocratic connection as a teacher of singing, the 
poor gentlewoman naturally could not help her pupils 
getting married ; and somehow or another, the coming 
race of young ladies of fashion preferred, as a rule, 
foreign singing-masters to English singing-mistresses. 
Consequently, her health being now completely re- 
stored, she thought that she would go back to that 
stage which she had loved so well ; and she found a 
pleasant opportunity for the exercise both of her dra- 
matic and her lyrical talents in the Princess's Theatre, 
Oxford Street, under the lesseeship and management 
of Mr. John Medex Maddox. Mr. Maddox was a Jew 
— an 'Ebrew Jew — whose real name was Medex : the 
Maddox being an ornamental suffix, added for pur- 
poses best known to himself. His brother, Mr. Samuel 
Medex, familiarly termed " Sam," kept a cigar shop 
in Oxford Street, directly opposite the Princess's The- 



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BACK IN LONDON 125 



atre ; and this shop, during the Maddox management, 
became almost as well-known a resort for singers and 
actors as Kilpack's " Divan " in King Street, Covent 
Garden, was for actors and journalists. The original 
Princess's Theatre, which has been in modern times 
almost entirely reconstructed, was built from the de- 
signs of the late Marsh Nelson, the architect of the 
Junior United . Service Club and of Lord Rothschild's 
house in Piccadilly, and who, it was my lot many 
years afterwards to know as a member of the Reform 
Club. He built the Princess's for the famous Hamlet 
— Thackeray's "Mr. Polonius " — the silversmith of 
Cranbourne Alley, who amassed an immense fortune, 
but muddled it away in disastrous speculations, among 
which was a large investment in Royal Bonds which 
were never paid, and who died at last a Brother of the 
Charterhouse. 

That venerable foundation, half almshouse, half 
school, has been a haven of rest to many notable per- 
sonages whom I remember well. There died Mon- 
criefl, the author of innumerable dramatic pieces, and 
the adapter to the stage of Pierce Egan's Life in Lon- 
don ; there, too, ended his days in peace Madison 
Morton, the author, or rathey the adapter from the 
French, of the screaming farce Box and Cox. In the 
Charter House likewise found refuge Monk Mason, 
sometime lessee of the Italian Opera House, and who 
ascended with Mr. Green in the Nassau Balloon on 
her famous voyage to the Continent. John Sheehan, 
" the Irish Whisky-Drinker " of the Temple Bar Maga- 
sine, became also in his declining years a brother of the 
Charter House ; and finally among the Carthusians 
within my ken was Dr. Gustave Ludwig Moritz 
Strauss, an intimate early associate of mine and the 
author of the diverting autobiography in which fiction 
is liberally mingled with fact, which was published 



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126 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

under the pseudonym of " The Old Bohemian." The 
doctor's stay in the Charter House was not, I believe, 
a very prolonged one. I think that after a time he 
grew weary of " Chapel ** twice a day, and dinner in 
Hall, and the long black cloak, and I have been told 
that he " commuted and cut." 

The Princess's, which cost nearly i^ 50,000 and 
achieved the ruin of Hamlet, had been turned to many 
uses before it was taken by Maddox. A series of 
Promenade Concerts were given there under the direc- 
tion of a well-known musician named Eliason while we 
were in France ; the concerts were not remunerative, 
and when we came back the landlord seemed to have 
so entirely abandoned the hope of letting the premises, 
that permission had been given to an elderly female, 
who dealt in kettle-holders, dog-collars, corkscrews, 
scissors, and penknives, and such small wares, to stretch 
her stall right across the principal door of entrance in 
Oxford Street. 

How Maddox scraped together sufficient money to 
open the Princess's was a mystery. He had led a 
roving kind of life as stage-manager, acting-manager, 
and agent-in-advance, and in the last-named capacity 
had travelled with an Epglish singer who, at one time, 
enjoyed considerable celebrity. This lady was known 
as Madame Fearon — who had been formerly prima 
donna assoluta at La Scala at Milan. I read of her as 
giving her services at the farewell benefit of Joseph 
Grimaldi, the peerless clown ; and, again, I note a 
kindly allusion to her talent as Mrs. Fearon Glossop 
in the recently published correspondence of Mr. 
Jekyll. She married indeed early in life a Mr. Glos- 
sop, the lessee of the disestablished Victoria Theatre, 
at the corner of the New Cut and the Waterloo Road. 
Madame Fearon was the grandmother of Sir Augustus 
Harris. 



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BACK IN LONDON 12/ 



I have an idea that Duke Charles of Brunswick, a 
sufficiently notorious character in London at this 
period, lent Maddox enough cash to tide over the first 
few months of his management. The Duke, who had 
been burnt out of his capital and his duchy to boot, by 
his insurgent subjects, shortly after the French Revo- 
lution of 1830, was a very tall, heavily whiskered and 
moustachioed personage of haughty bearing and de- 
cidedly unprepossessing mien. He dyed his hair and 
he rouged. I used often to see him stalking about, 
attended by a German equerry, behind the scenes of 
the Princess's; and about 1847, although I did not 
come in immediate personal contact with him, I exe- 
cuted for him an artistic commission to which I shall 
have hereafter occasion to refer, and which was of a 
somewhat remarkable nature. Whoever it was that 
furnished Maddox with the necessary funds, he duly 
opened the theatre with the opera of La Sonnambula 
and a burlesque on some Oriental topic in which the 
heroine — or, rather, hero — ^in a velvet tunic and tights, 
w^as a plump little lady with a melodious contralto 
voice who was the wife of Mr. H. P. Grattan, popu- 
larly known as " Harry,'* an actor, dramatist, journalist, 
and comic writer, who was one of the earliest members 
of the Punch staff, and, according to his own showing, 
wrote a considerable portion of the first number of 
Punch's Almanack in the cool seclusion of the Fleet 
Prison. The majority of men of letters in those days 
were from time to time involuntary boarders and 
lodgers in the " Fleet '* or in the Queen's Bench. 
Whitecross Street they eschewed as low. The bur- 
lesque was prefaced by Bellini's ever-delightful opera, 
in which my mother was to have played the part of 
Lisa, but at the last moment Madame Fearon asserted 
her supremacy as an Gx-prima-donna assoluta ; and she, 
instead of my mother, impersonated the part in ques- 



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128 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

tion. Who the Amina and who the Elvino were I fail 
to remember ; but Count Rodolfo was played by Weiss, 
who was afterwards the intimate friend of my brother 
and myself. He was a very handsome man ; but in his 
early manhood so exceedingly thin that he was com- 
pelled to wear what in theatrical parlance is known as 
a " shape *' — a complete suit of padding from neck to 
ankles worn next to the skin. One night he was play- 
ing in an opera in which he wore flowing robes, and was 
consequently able to dispense with his suit of padding. 
An inquisitive little ballet-girl thought that she would 
like to have a peep into Mr. Weiss's dressing-room ; 
and Joe, the call-boy, ascending the stairs, heard an 
appalling shriek, and saw the inquisitive coryphee rush 
from the room, throwing up her arms in a spasm of 
terror. She had seen Weiss*s "shape" hanging up 
behind the door, and thought that the basso had hanged 
himself. 

For about a year it was my privilege — as it was, 
longo intervallo, that of Duke Charles of Brunswick — to 
saunter almost every night behind the scenes of the 
Princess's Theatre. I must have been an odd-looking 
boy ; for I remember that I wore a blue-cloth cap with 
a peak and a long silk tassel, and a cloak. I hated that 
cloak, although it was a handsome garment of very 
fine broadcloth, with a velvet collar and a brass agrafe. 
It was lined with scarlet ; and that lining I was always 
agonisingly anxious to keep from public view. The 
abhorred mantle had, indeed, been presented to my 
mother by an officer who had served in the British 
Legion in Spain, and the cloak had been cut down to 
suit my stature ; but my parent had inflexibly refused 
to have the scarlet lining replaced by one of soberer 
hue. She said that it ought to make me feel martial. 
It made me, on the contrary, feel mean. 

The chief feature of the management of Mr. Maddox 



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BACK IN LONDON 1 29 



was English versions of Italian operas : thus he pro* 
duced with varied success, adaptations of Anna Bolena^ 
Lucia di Lammermoor^ Othello, I Puritanic and Lucrezia 
Borgia, In the last-named, Maffio Orsini was played 
by Mrs. H. P. Grattan ; the prima donna was Madame 
Evelina Garcia, and, later on, the fascinating Anna 
Thillon, who created quite 2l furore in the opera of the 
Crown Diamonds. His tenors were those competent 
English singers — Templeton and Allen. Maddox pros- 
pered, and gradually enlarged his sphere of operations. 
Albert Smith, Charles Dance, and Charles Lamb Ken- 
ney wrote either singly, or in collaboration, the Christ- 
mas, Easter, and Whitsuntide extravaganzas; but the 
astute manager shrank from the risk and the expense 
attendant on the production of a Christmas panto* 
mime. He was not averse, however, from paying 
good salaries to first-rate English comedians — in par- 
ticular, Mr. and Mrs. Keeley drew crowds to the thea- 
tre, as did also that drollest of low comedians, Wright, 
afterwards to be so closely and brilliantly associated 
with the fortunes of the Adelphi. Middle-aged play- 
goers, who remember with delight Charles Mathews 
in Used Up, will smile, perhaps incredulously, when 1 
tell them that the first English translation of the French 
vaudeville, ^L Homme blasS, was brought out at the 
Princess's in 1842-3, the precursor of Sir Charles Cold- 
stream being played by Wright, who, I remember, on 
the first night, borrowed a pair of trousers of the Royal 
Stuart tartan pattern, from the still living Walter 
Lacy : those rubicund pantaloons being considered to 
be just the kind of garments that would be worn by a 
gentleman of fashion. Among the operatic memories 
of this, my first stage of experience at the Princess's, I 
may mention that a brief engagement was fulfilled by 
Mr. and Mrs. Wood. The gentleman was a tenore 
robusto ; the lady, as Miss Paten, had been a famous 
9 



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I30 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

soprano, and had married Lord William Pitt Lennox, 
from whom she was divorced. 

All this time, the — to me very important — question 
as to what kind of English school I was to be sent, was 
being debated ; to some kind of school it was absolute- 
ly necessary that I should be despatched, for I was 
running, intellectually, to seed. My sister had left 
Mrs. Johnson's, and was completing her training as a 
governess, with two wonderful old maids, who lived 
in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, and who seemed 
to know everything under the sun — ^music, languages, 
drawing, painting, embroidery, arithmetic, history, and 
the belles lettres. They only took private pupils, and 
their classes never exceeded six in number. I suppose 
they took them " hot and hot," one come up, the other 
go down. In these days I apprehend they would be 
called " crammers " ; but their cramming was certainly 
of the most judicious and skilful nature. They lived 
in good style, and kept their carriage. I wonder 
whether there are any such lady-crammers nowadays, 
or whether they have been snuffed out by ladies' colleges, 
girls' high-schools, and local university examinations ? 

At all events, my sister had no longer any time to 
attend to me. At the expiration of her three months* 
cramming — or, suppose we call it polishing, or finish- 
ing, or, as the dentists say, "fine-fitting" — she obtained 
a post as governess in the family of a Mr. Hope, a 
Member of Parliament, who was Under Secretary of 
State for the Home Department. She used often to 
take her young pupils to play in the enclosed garden 
of Hamilton Place, Park Lane ; and among the dis- 
tinguished young ladies who occasionally visited the 
verdant pleasaunce, now disfigured by the atrocious 
Byron Memorial — I was a member of the committee of 
that lamentable ficLsco — was the young Princess Mary 
of Cambridge, now Duchess of Teck, 



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BACK IN LONDON 131 

For my eldest brother, my mother had purchased 
the goodwill of the practice of a teacher of the piano- 
forte, at High Wycombe, Bucks. My brother Charles 
had obtained an engagement at the Theatre Royal, 
Dublin, under the management of Mr. Calcraft ; and 
my brother Albert had gone to sea. His first experi- 
ence of nautical life was scarcely a reassuring one. He 
went out in a troop-ship belonging to the well-known 
shipowner, Mr. Soames, the inventor of the marine 
glue. The vessel was called the Abercrontby Robinson^ 
and was bound for India; but she was wrecked in 
Algoa Bay, fortunately without any serious loss of life 
taking place. 

It will thus be seen that, at the age of nearly four- 
teen, I was left almost entirely to my own devices. At 
night I was generally behind the scenes, watching the 
performances from the wings, and waiting to take my 
mother home. In our early youth my mother had all 
her children taught systematically and artistically to 
cook ; and I had generally prepared our supper before 
I came down to the theatre, and all we had to do on 
our return was to give our little plats a final boil up. 
The Balfes had gone abroad ; and I had not a single 
boyish playmate or crony. One little lady-friend I 
had, the singularly beautiful daughter of Madame 
Adelaide, and grand-daughter of Madame Michau, 
mentioned in the early pages of this book, Rosa, or 
Roma Guyon La Thifere. I read voraciously, not only 
books, but such newspapers as I could afford to buy 
out of my pocket-money. The Times was obviously 
beyond my means ; but I invested every week in the 
Sunday Times ^LnA the Weekly Despatch ; and when the 
Illustrated London News made its appearance, I used, if 
I had been tipped by either of my kind cousins, to buy 
a copy of that wonderful picture paper. Of the Penny 
Magazine and the Saturday Magazine I had been a con- 



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132 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

stant purchaser, before we went to Paris ; as also of 
some periodical which mainly existed on piracy upon 
the leading novelists and tale-writers of the day ; but 
what I chiefly prized was a twopenny weekly with 
splendidly vigorous woodcut illustrations, drawn, as 
well as engraved, by one Samuel Williams. One of 
these periodicals, I think, was called The Olio^ and an- 
other the Parterre. 

I repeat that I mi^s running intellectually to seed for 
the want of proper scholastic teaching. Of the rules 
of English grammar I knew positively nothing, and I 
do not know six of those rules, now. I held on to my 
Greek, but my knowledge of Latin was rapidly skating 
away from me ; and, to sum up the unsatisfactory state 
of my culture, I knew a great deal too much French. 
Such English as I could write was disfigured by Galli- 
cisms, and the first week that I did spend at an Eng- 
lish school, I was severely reprimanded for having 
threatened to " throw by the window ** a boy, who had 
called me a mangey French poodle. As my career 
was to be an English, and not a foreign one, it was 
clear that my learning good English had come to be a 
case of then or never ; and, after much hesitation, an 
English school was found for me. 



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CHAPTER XIII 

BOLTON HOUSE, TURNHAM GREEN 

It turned out to be the very kind of school for which 
my soul had instinctively yearned. The Principal was 
a Mr. John Godfrey Dyne, who occupied a large man- 
sion called Bolton House, Turnham Green, and Tie 
dubbed his school a " Pestalozzian " one. The scholas- 
tic system pursued by Mr. Dyne had thus much in 
common with the method of the beneficent education- 
alist of Zurich, that its basis was intuition ; that is to 
say, education through the senses immediately from 
the objects : it encouraged self-development, and was 
strict in disregarding all arbitrary and unreasoning in- 
struction or acquisition. There were plenty of re- 
wards attainable for industry and good conduct, and 
there was no corporal punishment. I am sorry to say 
that I only remained at this excellent school for twelve 
months, and that I left it before my education was 
even near completion. A decent amount of classical 
instruction was imparted : our Latin master being an 
Oxford man, named Roberts, whose father held an im- 
portant post in the War Office. French and German 
were taught by an Alsatian gentleman, named Goetz ; 
and I always kept a good place in the German class, 
although, I must frankly admit, once for all, that I 
have never ceased to entertain the liveliest detestation 
* for the Teutonic tongue. 

We had a master for drawing, painting, and model- 
ling; and the greater number of the boys followed 
some handicraft or occupation out of school hours. 



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134 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Some cultivated their little plots of garden ground ; 
others worked in the chemical laboratory, where, if 
they did manage to stain their fingers all the hues of 
the rainbow, or bum holes in their pocket-handker- 
chiefs and cuffs by means of strong acids, they gath- 
ered at least some inklings of the magic science. 
There were carpenters and joiners, and miniature 
coachbuilders ; and my special work out of school was 
copying music. We learned singing by the " Hullah 
system," which was then enjoying immense popularity 
in England ; although musicians of the old school were 
apt to sneer at it as the " HuUah-buUoo '* way of teach- 
ing singing ; but we managed, nevertheless, to sing in 
good time and tune such pieces as the " Hallelujah 
Chorus," such glees as " Here in cool Grot," and 
"When Winds breathe soft," and a few humorous 
catches, such as, " Ah ! how, Sophia, can you grieve ? " 
The transmutation of our " How, Sophia ? " to a " House 
on fire," and of "Go fetch the Indian's borrowed 
plumes," to " Go fetch the engines," used to tickle our 
boyish fancies immensely. 

The parts to be sung were copied out with reed 
pens and thick Japan ink, on large sheets of card- 
board ; the process was, in fact, more like painting 
than writing, seeing that the crotchets and quavers 
were at least two inches and a-half in height, and the 
minims as big as hen's eggs. Then we had a violin 
class, in which I fear that I never got beyond the first 
two notes of " God Save the Queen ; " notes which 
are, I believe, identical ; but good Mr. Dyne, true to 
his Pestalozzian traditions, forbore to force upon me 
the study of an art, in which, had its first principles 
been instilled into me in childhood, I might possibly 
have excelled. So as in the celebrated case of the 
decease of Uncle Ned, " I hung up the fiddle and the 
bow," and devoted myself during the music-practising 



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BOLTON HOUSE, TURNHAM GREEN 135 

hours to the pursuits of my beloved practical geom- 
etry. In modelling, I made a considerable advance. 
It occurred to Mr. Dyne to add a portico of Grecian 
design to Bolton House, and I had the high honour of 
being allowed to model the figures in the pediment, 
these figures being afterwards reproduced in Roman 
cement. The group which I produced represented 
Minerva, in a head-dress strongly resembling a fire- 
man's helmet, with a book in one hand, and a laurel 
crown in the other, rewarding a number of studious 
schoolboys in round jackets and lay-down collars ; but 
as the sides of the triangle diminished in width, the 
youthful devotees in learning had first to lose their 
arms, and then their legs, and ultimately assumed the 
similitude of cherubs without wings. I would give 
something to see that pediment now ; but, alas ! Bol- 
ton House has long since been demolished, and Mi- 
nerva and the schoolboys were, I suspect, pounded 
down into powder for the making of fresh cement. So 
runs the world away. My early knowledge of the 
technical process stood me, however, in good stead 
when, many years afterwards, I was examined as a 
witness in the celebrated Belt libel case. 

We played at fives and rounders and trap-bat-and- 
ball, but only rarely did we repair to a field between 
Chiswick and Acton to play cricket. Our chief out- 
door recreation was a gymnasium, set up in the mid- 
dle of the very large playground; the principal ap- 
paratus being a structure of timber, very much like 
an unusually tall gallows, with an unusually long cross- 
beam ; and this erection comprised a thick and a thin 
pole, a swinging pole, a knotted rope for climbing, and 
parallel bars at different altitudes, to swing from. I 
never liked athletics, which, in the darkness of my 
mind, I regarded, and still regard, as mainly a waste 
of time ; nor do I believe that the great Duke of Wel- 



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136 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

lington ever said (or ever meant it if he did say it), 
that the battle of Waterloo was won in the playing- 
fields of Eton, because, as everybody knows, the illus- 
trious Arthur Wellesley was removed from Eton un- 
der somewhat peculiar circumstances, and completed 
his education at the Military School of Angers, in 
France. 

The heroic Paget, Earl of Uxbridge at Waterloo, 
and afterwards Marquis of Anglesey, was a Westmin- 
ster boy; the stem Picton was not of any public 
school ; and Hardinge, the most distinguished Eto- 
nian — next to the Duke — who fought in the immortal 
campaign of 181 5, lost his left hand at Ligny, and was 
not present at Waterloo at all. The private soldiers 
in the Duke's army of the 15th of June were certainly 
not Etonians, and the young Guardsmen who were 
on the field, and were fresh from the historic seminary 
supposed to be haunted by " Henry's holy shade," had 
no more to do with winning the battle than the mid- 
shipmen on board the Victory had to do with winning 
Trafalgar. Waterloo was won by the genius of the 
Great Captain of the Age, by the prudence and vigour 
of his generals, and by the valour of his soldiers of all 
ranks, gentle and simple. 

We all learnt dancing at Bolton House, just as I 
had done at my pension in Paris, my instructor having 
been a stout professor, named Boizot, who taught his 
pupils to keep time in waltzing by gripping them 
round the waist with his two bony hands, as in an 
iron vice, and stamping on their feet if they made a 
false step. He was a short, sturdy man, with very long 
arms, and had, consequently, a good " purchase " on 
the tallest boys. At Bolton House our dancing mas- 
ter was a tall thin individual of melancholy mien. His 
name was Tompkins ; and one of our boys, coming 
to school after the holidays, brought with him the ca- 



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BOLTON HOUSE, TURNHAM GREEN 1 37 

lumnious tale which he had somewhere picked up, that 
the dancing master was known in professional circles 
as " lying Tompkins." He never told us any fib that 
I am aware of ; but give a dog a bad name, and you 
may as well hang him. 

There remains to mention a final item in the curric- 
ulum of our studies. At least twice a week we acted 
stage-plays ; and for a month before the annual exam- 
ination we had a rehearsal almost every day. Shake- 
spearian tuition was imparted to us by a Mr. Otway, 
who was, I believe, a gentleman of independent means, 
with a craze for acting. He was an excellent elocu- 
tionist, and he ranted. The English play selected for 
the Midsummer examination was Julius Ccesar^ which 
we performed in its entirety ; then came the whole of 
Moli^re's Mddecin malgri luij then the whole of Schil- 
ler's William Tell in German, and finally, selections 
from the Adelphi of Terence in Latin, and from the 
Electra of Sophocles in Greek, in which I played the 
paedagogue. In a grim spirit of humour our pre- 
ceptor alloted to the biggest dunce in the school the 
part of Pylades, who, from the beginning to the end 
of the play, persistently holds his tongue. He was a 
good-looking dunce, and when a selection from Electra 
was performed in public made quite a sensation among 
the ladies. It was certainly not from the possession 
of any dramatic faculty of my own that I was singled 
out to take a conspicuous part in these examination 
theatricals ; but I had a turn for languages, a good 
memory, and a resonant voice, and consequently I was 
cast to play Brutus in Julius Casar, Sganarelle in the 
Midecin malgri lui, and William Tell in Schiller's mas- 
terpiece. In the selection from Terence I played a 
very minor part. 

A fortnight before the examination all the boys who 
were to take part in Julius Casar wf re conveyed, by 



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138 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SAL A 

specially hired omnibus, to Drury Lane Theatre, to 
witness the performance of Shakespeare's splendid 
tragedy. It was worth witnessing — magnificently 
worth witnessing — if only from the acting point of 
view, for the Brutus of the evening was William 
Charles Macready, and the Mark Antony was the still 
living Mr. James Anderson. We were bitterly disap- 
pointed, when the tragedy had come to a close, at not 
being allowed to remain to see Planch6*s extravaganza 
of The White Cat ; but we were partially consoled for 
the deprivation by the specially hired omnibus stop- 
ping at a then well-known confectioner's shop in Pic- 
cadilly, there to be regaled with what schoolboys call 
a regular good "tuck out." What with sausage-rolls, 
Bath buns, plum cake, and Scotch shortbread, we did 
pretty well. Ginger beer and lemonade were liberally 
provided; and the principals, Brutus, Cassius, Mark 
Antony, and Calphurnia — the last a lubberly lad of fif- 
teen — had the choice of a glass of port, or of one of 
cherry brandy. Brutus preferred cherry brandy. 

In due time the public examination of the pupils at 
Bolton House was held at the Hanover Square Rooms 
— z, roomy mansion, built late in the last century by old 
Sir John Gallini, who had amassed a large fortune as 
professor of dancing. With him my grandfather had 
been associated in the Terpsichorean department of 
the King's Theatre, in the Haymarket, and he was one 
of my father's godfathers. At these same Hanover 
Square Rooms my mother gave many concerts ; and I 
never pass the premises now — converted, I believe, 
into a club — without a melancholy feeling coming over 
me. I am getting like Friar Laurence in the play, 
and my old feet stumble at graves. The great room 
in Hanover Square was crowded by the parents, 
guardians, and friends of the boys, and the examina- 
tion was about the queerest medley that it is possible 



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BOLTON HOUSE, TURNHAM GREEN 1 39 

to conceive. The whole school numbered fifty pupils, 
and thirty gave a performance on the violin, thus beat- 
ing, by half-a-dozen, Tom Ingoldsby's " four-and- 
twenty fiddlers all in a row," who, under the guidance 
of Sir George Smart, were said, by the imaginative 
bard, to have played a " consarto " at the coronation of 
Queen Victoria. I was not one of the thirty fiddlers ; 
but I took my part in the mathematical examination, 
which mainly consisted in chalking lines on an im- 
mense blackboard, and in gabbling through a large 
number of formulas proving that the angle A B was 
equal to the angle c D, which most of us, in our hearts 
of heart, gravely suspected not to be the case. Then 
we sang, or rather shouted, the " Hallelujah Chorus," 
and " When Winds Breathe Soft ; " and then began 
the dramatic performances. We had a good stage 
and a curtain ; but, following the Elizabethan prec- 
edent, we dispensed with scenery. 

But now came that which was to me a very awk- 
ward difficulty. That eminent costumier, Mr. Nathan 
— I hope that he, or some of his descendants, are still 
carrying on the business, and are flourishing — had 
been commissioned to supply the dresses for Julius 
Casar — ^the only piece of the evening which was to be 
played in character ; and on a long table, in an apart- 
ment which was to serve for the nonce as a dressing- 
room, was laid out a picturesque array of Roman 
togas, helmets, tunics, breastplates, sandals, and 
swords. My mother, however, had inexorably set 
her face against what she called my playing at play- 
acting ; and although she reluctantly consented to my 
making an elocutionary exhibition of myself, she dis- 
tinctly warned Mr. Dyne that she would not pay one 
single penny for the hire oi any costume in which Mr. 
Nathan might, with the approbation of my school- 
master, choose to apparel me. 



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140 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

What was to be done ? In the last moment the re- 
sourceful Mr, Dyne, after persuading me to divest 
myself of most of my raiment, threw a toga, which 
was very like a tablecloth, over my shoulders; and 
my lower extremities being clad only in socks and 
Blilcher boots, they did very well, classically, for bare 
legs and sandals. The quarrel scene with Cassius was 
a great success ; for the boy who played Cassius was 
one of my intimate enemies, and frequently gave ex- 
pression in an undertone to his wish that it was all 
real, and that he could punch my head then and there. 
In the end there was such hearty applause from the 
audience that the delighted Mr. Dyne caught me up 
in his arms and carried me away to the refreshment- 
room, to regale me with a sponge-cake and a glass of 
sherry ; but I am afraid that ere the audience had lost 
sight of me, the toga, which was like a tablecloth, had 
become dreadfully disarranged, and too much, with 
too little of the garments which should have been 
above them, of the socks and BlUcher boots had be- 
come visible. 

The part of an old man in the Latin play, and that 
of Sganarelle in the Midecin malgri luiy and William 
Tell in Schiller's drama, we played in ordinary school- 
boy dress. Sganarelle was all right, for I had long 
been at home with Molifere, but of William Tell I am 
afraid I made a shocking mess. I know that on the 
following morning at breakfast Mr. Goetz, the Ger- 
man master, quietly remarked, " My gutt poy, you 
maig at least von onderd and vifty mistaigs last 
night." I daresay that I made two hundred ; for, as I 
have more than once remarked, I have always enter- 
tained an obstinate, and I may say, inveterate dislike 
for the noble, but to me harsh and austere, German 
language. I have been in love, in the course of my 
life, with a great many ladies of a great many nation- 



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BOLTON HOUSE, TURNHAM GREEN 141 

alities ; but I am quite sure that I never made love in 
German. I am firmly persuaded that if I devoted the 
next six months of my life to a fresh course of " Ollen- 
dorff," and a weekly perusal of Goethe's " Werther," I 
should not succeed in being amorous in the Teutonic 
tongue. 

But here I will make mention of what I may call 
two somewhat curious linguistic phenomena. I can 
still repeat fluently Tell's long speech, beginning, " Es 
ist nicht lange her," although I am sure I have not 
opened a volume of Schiller in the original for forty 
years. When, a few years since, the admirable Mein- 
ingen troop of actors came to Drury Lane, the princi- 
pal members of the company were entertained by 
Henry Irving at the Lyceum ; and talking to that dis- 
tinguished artist, Herr Barnay, I recited, right off, the 
speech descriptive of Tell meeting the hated Austrian, 
Gessler. Herr Barnay was delighted, and proceeded 
to address me in colloquial German ; but I shook my 
head, and told him that not only was I unable to con- 
verse with him, but I scarcely understood what he 
said. Similarly, there has never been erased from my 
memory the implacable reply, in the flight of the 
French from Waterloo, of the black Brunswicker, 
from whom a French soldier begged quarter : — ** Der 
Herzog von Braunschweig ist gestern getodiet** and so 
saying, he cut the Frenchman down. The merciless 
retort probably dwells in my memory because, from 
my youth upwards, I have been a hero-worshipper of 
Napoleon the Great, and an earnest student of the 
minutest details of the Waterloo campaign. 



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CHAPTER XIV 

FACING THE WORLD 

I HAVE nothing more to say of my stay at Bolton 
House, Turnham Green. I was past fourteen ; and it 
had become necessary that I should do something to- 
wards earning my own living. I knew a good deal, 
considering my age, and I could draw with facility ; 
so when the Christmas holidays had come to an end 
my mother took me to a clever miniature painter, Mr. 
Carl Schiller, who had just taken a large house in 
Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, directly opposite 
the residence of a then celebrated and prosperous ar- 
tist in miniature. Sir William Ross, R.A. I remained 
some months in Mr. Schiller's studio, working very 
hard at drawing from plaster casts — or the " round," 
as art technology has it — and passing most of my even- 
ings at the Princess's, where my mother was still en- 
gaged, and where I made numberless sketches of the 
actors and actresses, not forgetting the ladies of the 
corps de ballet, both in morning dress and in costume. 
I know nothing about the ballet of the present day, 
but can say that my experience of the lallerine of 1843 
led me to the conviction that they were, as a rule, 
honest, innocent girls, fond of a romp now and again, 
but devoid of evil. My mother used to give them 
prizes — new shoes, neck ribbons, artificial flowers, and 
so forth — as rewards for tidiness, punctuality, and gen- 
eral good conduct. One of her special favourites was 
a tall, graceful coryph^Cy Miss Sophie Burbage, who 
afterwards became the wife of the renowned scene- 
painter, William Roxby Beverly. 



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FACING THE WORLD 143 

I was to have been articled for three years to Mr. 
Schiller; but he did not find miniature painting — 
which even then was in its decline — very productive, 
and removed with his family to Liverpool. This must 
have been some time in 1844. Twenty years passed 
before I saw him again ; and he was then occupied in 
converting photographic portraits into miniatures in 
the studio of a well-known photographer at the West 
End of London. He was delighted to meet me again, 
and painted an elaborate miniature of myself, which I 
had framed in a gold locket and which is now in the 
possession of my wife. 

The two years that followed were laborious but 
scarcely happy one* to me. I was uncomfortable at 
home ; I had a temper, and my mother was also richly 
endowed with one ; and before I was fifteen, I made up 
my mind to go into the world and earn my own living. 
It was hard enough to earn, heaven knows ! My early 
training in mathematics had made me a good arithme- 
tician ; and I picked up some money by making up 
tradesmen's books: notably those of a fashionable 
tailor, who lived at 4, St. James's Street, a house now 
occupied by Mr. Francis Harvey, the print-seller. The 
tailor's name was Crellin ; and he was a kind of con- 
nection of mine, having married my Aunt Eliza. I re- 
member that my two elder brothers were so dread- 
fully shocked at what they considered to be the nt^s- 
alliance committed by my Aunt Eliza, that they could 
not appease their outraged dignity until they had both 
run up very long bills with their connection by mar- 
riage. Whether those accounts were ever settled, it 
is no business of mine to inquire. 

Crellin was a Manxman — a tall handsome person 
who looked as most West End tailors do, quite the 
gentleman. When he came to London to start in busi- 
ness, he was accortipanied by a fellow-countryman, an 



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144 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

intimate friend, named John Macrone — as handsome 
and intelligent a young fellow as Crellin himself was. 
My Aunt Eliza's husband dedicated himself to the sar- 
torial calling; Macrone, who had a small capital, re- 
solved to become a publisher and went into partner- 
ship with a Mr. Cochrane in Waterloo Place. While 
Crellin had been courting my Aunt Eliza, young Mr. 
Macrone had been wooing her sister, my Aunt Sophia; 
but the match never came off, and Macrone married 
another lady, by whom he had a family. 

Prior, however, to the rupture of the tender relations 
between young Mr. Macrone and Miss Sophia Sala — 
this was I think in 1836 — he, finding that the capital 
of the publishing firm was urgently in need of expan- 
sion, borrowed from Miss Sala the sum of ;^500; and I 
believe that a considerable portion of this money went 
to pay Charles Dickens for the copyright of " Sketches 
by Boz." Of the subsequent dealings between Dick- 
ens and Macrone I have nothing to do. They are fully 
set forth in Mr. Forster's Life ; I am only concerned 
with that bond for ;^50o. Macrone died in poverty 
and his creditors received nothing 5 he left, moreover, 
a wife and young children, and Dickens, generous as 
he always was, edited for the benefit of the family of 
the publisher, who had certainly not used him very 
well, two volumes of tales and essays which appeared 
in 1 841 under the title of the " Pic-nic Papers.** The 
work enabled him to put something like ;^300 in the 
hands of the widow Macrone ; but I scarcely think that 
the sale was very large of the " Pic-nic Papers," which 
had been got up on the line of the " Livre des Cent-et- 
un," which consisted of the voluntary contributions 
of a number of celebrated French men of letters, who 
banded themselves together to assist the widow of a 
well-known Parisian publisher named Ladvocat. 

My Aunt Sophia died, I think, in 1837; and her 



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FACING THE WORLD 145 



modest competence went to my Aunt Crellin with re- 
version in favour of my three brothers, my sister and 
myself. My Aunt Eliza died in 1850, and the rever- 
sion, which included some freehold houses at Camden 
Town and a modest sum in Consols, came to us. My 
Aunt's solicitors were a well-known firm, Burgoyne 
and Thrupp, in Stratford Place, Oxford Street ; and 
when I went to receive the few hundreds of pounds 
that came to my share, the senior partner, Mr. T. Bur- 
goyne, produced from a tin box, John Macrone's bond, 
which he had given to my Aunt Sophia. With a quiet 
smile the man of law asked if I thought that the piece 
of parchment in question would be of any service to 
my family. I replied with a smile of reciprocity that 
none of us were snuff-takers, else the parchment would 
do very well with the help of a spatula and a little 
water for mixing rappee with Irish " blackguard." 
This little incident once more reminds me that the 
world after all is not such a very big village. 

Life is a chain of many links, but the spaces are usu- 
ally neither numerous nor wide. " The circles of our 
felicities," writes Sir Thomas Browne, "make short 
arches ; " and the same, as a general rule, may be said 
of our sorrows. Here am I, at sixty-six, travel-worn 
and parcel-blind with incessant labour and stud}'. But 
here, likewise, by my side in the club smoking-room is 
a smart, spruce, smooth-faced young gentleman who 
seems to know as much as I do — and possibly a great 
deal more — about, not only the present, but the past 
If I talk to him about the Chandos Clause in the Re- 
form Bill of 1832, he caps me with a reference to the 
great meeting on Penenden Heath against Catholic 
Emancipation, and tells me the origin of the " Kentish 
Fire." I might have attended fifty Derbies before he 
was born; yet he knows all about Cossack and the 
Flying Dutchman, West Australian and Wild Dayrell, 
10 



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146 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Blair Athol and Blue Gown. In my own case I am 
astonished sometimes to remember how close the con- 
nection has been between those persons whom I knew 
in my youth and those with whom I have been 
brought into association in middle and in old age. 
For instance, when I was making up the books of Mr. 
Crellin the tailor — duties carried on at a high desk 
something between an auctioneer's rostrum and a puL 
pit and in a dark corner of the shop in St. James's 
Street — I saw very many people whom I was destined 
to meet under .very different circumstances in after 
life. There was an Anglo-Indian civilian, pale and 
spare, and who had not yet grown a moustache, named 
Frere. I was afterwards to know him as Sir Bartle 
Frere. There was a military gentleman, a Colonel 
Arthur, whose father had been governor of Van Die- 
men's Land, now Tasmania ; and Colonel Arthur's son, 
Sir George Arthur, Bart., I often meet at the Beef- 
steak Club when I am in town. 

There was a slight, active, nattily dressed gentleman 
with an oval face of much comeliness, who used to 
drive up in a smartly appointed mail phaeton to the 
shop, and who usually had some conversation with the 
tailor as to the state of the odds on some race to come. 
He was a barrister. Mr. Crellin told me lie had had 
many ups and downs, but was now (in the 'forties) ris- 
ing rapidly in his profession, having become a Queen's 
Counsel in 1841, and a year or two later one of the 
recognised leaders of the western circuit. Many 
years afterwards I was to meet him in society as Sir 
Alexander Cockbum, Lord Chief Justice of England. 
Once too, ascending the stairs of my book-keeping 
pulpit, I just saw the back of a very tall gentleman in 
a cloak. Cloaks, I have already said, were generally 
worn by gentlemen in the 'forties. After the gentle- 
man had left, Crellin told me that he was a very clever 



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FACING THE WORLD 147 

man, somewhat impecunious ; but he was on the staS 
of Punch, and he wrote tales and sketches in the maga- 
zines under the pseudonym of Michael Angelo Tit- 
marsh. A year or two afterwards I was presented to 
him by my brother at a little convivial club in Dean 
Street, Soho, known as the " Deanery." The name of 
the tall gentleman was William Makepeace Thackeray. 
It was my fortune to know him long and intimately, 
and he was wont to laugh very heartily when I re- 
minded him of the cloak he had once worn, and of my 
view of the back of that cloak when he had called at 
4, St. James's Street. 

Unfortunately there were not always tradesmen's 
books to be made up, and I had, until the end of 1845, 
no regular employment; while I had a distressingly 
regfular and hearty appetite, and a landlady in whose 
house, somewhere in Soho, I occupied a back attic, 
whose ideas as to strict punctuality in the payment of 
rent were of a very inflexible character. After a 
while I was fortunate enough through the kindness of 
Sir Denis Lemarchant, one of the clerks of the House 
of Commons, I think, to obtain a considerable amount 
of remunerative employment as a copyist of legal 
documents. In particular I remember that I tran- 
scribed the voluminous will and the codicil of a peer 
of the realm, deceased. That defunct nobleman's tes- 
tament boarded and lodged me for at least three 
weeks. 

During the railway mania of 1845, I did exception- 
ally well ; for at that time I could draw on stone both 
with chalk and with the pen ; and I earned from time 
to time goodly sums by drawing the plans for incipi- 
ent railways. But I wanted regular employment, how- 
ever slight the fixed remuneration might be ; and that 
employment I found in a somewhat odd manner. 
There was a large public-house on the south side of 



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148 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



Oxford Market, a long since disestablished emporium, 
on the site of which now stands a huge block of flats, 
which tavern was kept by an astonishingly agile mime 
by the name of George Wieland. Very old playgoers 
will remember his almost superhuman nimbleness in 
the part of Asmodeus in the drama of the Devil on Two 
Sticks. My brother, who had now left the Theatre 
Royal, Dublin, knew Wieland as a theatrical crony, 
and introduced me to him ; and the kindly impersona- 
tor of le Diable Boiteux took a fancy to me, and gave 
me a commission to make a series of lithographic por- 
traits of himself in the various characters which he 
had impersonated; which portraits were to be used 
as the labels for his spirit bottles. I succeeded, 
in his opinion at least, so well that he employed 
me to execute a work of much greater import- 
ance. There was a Foresters* Lodge held at his 
house ; and he proposed that I should paint a large 
picture in oils representing the antiquities and the re- 
galia of that Ancient Order or highly respectable 
Benefit Society. The painting was to be executed on 
linen, so as to serve, when framed, and placed in an 
opening of the door of the tavern, as a transparency 
brilliantly visible by night. I went to work with a 
will ; made a large number of sketches, and arranged 
them in a decorative design in which all kinds of 
things relating to Forestry were depicted — bows, ar- 
rows, targets, bugle horns, plumed hats, stags of ten 
tynes, leather belts, and buff boots ; and you may be 
sure that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were not for- 
gotten in this glorified announcement that the Lodge, 
number something or another, of the Ancient Order of 
Foresters, was held at this particular tavern. 

I got on very well with the drawing, but when it 
came to the painting, I was perplexed. It was the 
first time that I had essayed painting in oil ; I did not 



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FACING THE WORLD 149 

know what was the best medium to use ; the surface 
I was painting on being intended for a transparency, 
I could not, obviously, " prime ** it, and my colours 
ran. I sought counsel from ray brother Charles, and 
he took the half-hnished work to Mr. William Roxby 
Beverly, who had just come to the Princess's as chief 
scene-painter. Beverly pointed out the most glaring 
defects in the picture — if picture it could be called — 
and advised me to use turpentine as a medium ; but 
the exhibition of my crude production in the painting- 
room led to results which I had been far from antici- 
pating. Mr. John Medex Maddox, the lessee and 
manager of the theatre of whom I have already 
spoken, took some notice of my pictorial efforts and 
goodnaturedly asked Beverly if he would take me 
as an assistant scene-painter ; and this, the even better 
natured artist consented to do ; and during more than 
a year I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of his in- 
struction without any fee or reward being expected 
of me ; while on the other hand Mr. Beverly had re- 
ceived a large premium from an articled pupil named 
Gates, who enjoyed no greater advantages in the way 
of tuition than I did ; but he stayed in the painting- 
room full three years, and was continually at work, 
whereas I was only occasionally able to take a turn at 
wielding the double-tie brush and dabbling in distem- 
per. 

Mr. John Medex Maddox, although very good- 
natured, had a frugal mind. He knew that I lacked 
regular employment, and he said that I should have 
it ; but, on the principle of one good turn deserving 
another, he proposed that I should render certain little 
services in the theatre when I was not wanted in the 
painting-room. These little services included translat- 
ing comedies and farces from the French ; copying 
out the parts ; drawing up the advertisements for the 



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ISO LIFE OF GEORGE ACGUSTUS SALA 

newspapers; taking stock in the wardrobe, occasion- 
ally holding the prompt-book at the wing, and helping 
the treasurer to make out his accounts. For these 
" little services " my salary was exactly fifteen shillings 
a week ; and I declare that on that income, supple- 
mented from time to time by outside copying work, 
and by occasionally selling water-colour drawings for 
a few shillings apiece, I lived for thirteen months, 
comparatively speaking, royally — ^that is to say, I had 
enough; and what growing lad can want or should 
want more ? I paid five shillings a week for an attic 
close to the theatre, in Margaret Street, Cavendish 
Square. Rent was my heaviest outlay ; but with the 
remaining ten shillings I managed to have enough to 
eat and drink and pay my weekly washing bill. My 
clothes, I should say, were bought out of the extra- 
neous money I earned by selling drawings and tran- 
scribing law papers. 

Those thirteen months at the Princess's I can cheer- 
fully recall as being, perhaps, the most felicitous in a 
life which, chequered as it has been by poverty, by 
neglect, by disparagement, by danger and misadvent- 
ure and hardship, and by almost constant bodily pain, 
has been, on the whole, a happy one. I worked pro- 
digiously hard at the Princess's, at all sorts of occu- 
pations save that of acting ; but I liked my work, and 
had as a rule my evenings to myself. Half of these 
evenings I devoted to general study, either artistic or 
literary. On three nights of the week I went to the 
theatre to see the performance, not from the front, 
but from the " flies " high up behind the scenes. From 
those "flies" I have beheld over and over again Ma- 
cready in his very finest parts ; from those " flies," 
also, I watched Fanny Kemble, who, for a brief period, 
had returned to the stage, and who played in, among 
other pieces, Sheridan Knowles's Hunchback. There 



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FACING THE WORLD 151 

was a wonderful revival, too, of the Midsummer Nighfs 
Dream, in which Beverly excelled himself in imagina- 
tive painting ; there was a wonderful ballet, founded 
on the famous French one, the Diable h Quatre ; and 
there was likewise produced, with brilliant success, a 
charmingly melodious English opera, called the Night 
Dancers, The music was composed by Edward Loder, 
the son of old John Loder, a well-known violinist, 
who, when the Princess's was first opened under Mad- 
dox's management, was leader of the orchestra. The 
libretto, the plot of which was founded on the French 
ballet of Giselle y was written by a Mr. George Soane, 
an elderly gentleman, gaunt and woebegone in mien, 
seedy in apparel, and with two tall daughters. They 
used to whisper behind the scenes that the forlorn- 
looking librettist was the eldest son of the deceased 
Sir John Soane, the distinguished and wealthy archi- 
tect, whose principal work is in evidence at the Bank 
of England, and who disinherited his son for having 
presumed to write in a literary periodical some dispar- 
aging criticfsms of the paternal lucubrations on the 
ruins of Stonehenge. 

In connection with an opera libretto, I have a some- 
what curious story to tell. The success of the Night 
Dancers was so great that it incited another well-known 
English composer, named George Linley, who was a 
great friend of ours, to think of composing an opera to 
be produced by Maddox, and which was to bear the 
title of the Bride of Castelnuovo. I wrote the libretto : 
my brother contributing some of the words of the 
songs. George Linley was a Yorkshireman, a fine, 
stalwart man, who had been in his youth a captain of 
yeomanry, and used to tell me stirring tales of the 
"Luddite" riots in 18 12. I doubt whether he was a 
very scientific musician; but he had a rich gift of 
melody — melody of which there is triumphant evidence 



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1 52 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



in his two delicious ballads — ballads I hope not yet for- 
gotten—" Constance," and " Thy Spirit of Love/' He 
married a daughter of the noted Orientalist, Dr. Gil- 
christ ; and he was always in desperately embarrassed 
circumstances. 

I remember, after " Constance " had achieved almost 
unprecedented success, that he remarked cheerily 
that he was determined for the future to raise his 
terms, and never write a song for less than ;f 20. He 
never, however, completed the score of the Bride of 
Castelnuovoy and the libretto remained in my mother's 
hands. Some time in 1848 she had a cook who was 
exceptionally intelligent and fond of reading, and to 
whom she occasionally lent books. The cook left — as 
cooks will do — rather suddenly, but without, as the 
police reports say, the slightest stain on her character. 
Some six months afterwards my brother Charles, who 
was now engaged at the Princess's, received a letter 
from a lady living at Brompton, in which epistle she 
asked him whether he had ever had a cook by the name 

of Jane C . He replied that, as yet, he had never 

gone into housekeeping on his own account ; but that 
his mother, Madame Sala, had once had in her service 
a cook of the name mentioned by the lady. The next 
day came another letter from the same correspondent, 
asking him to come to lunch at two o'clock on the 
morrow. 

He accepted the invitation, and found in an elegantly, 
furnished villa in the suburb which then used to be 
known as ** Brompton, near London," a handsome lady, 
just verging on middle age, who entertained him with 
refined hospitality. After luncheon, conducting him 
to her tastefully-appointed boudoir, she took from the 
drawer of a Boule cabinet a somewhat dog's-eared 
manuscript, on the cover of which was written — " The 
Bride of Castelnuovo : a romantic opera in three acts, 



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FACING THE WORLD 1 53 

the music by George Linley, the words by Charles 
Kerrison and George Augustus Sala." She proceeded 
to tell my brother that she had had for a short time a 

cook named Jane C , who left her on quite amicable 

terms and had emigrated to New Zealand, and she had 
left behind her in the kitchen-drawer the manuscript in 
question. This the handsome lady returned to the 
joint author of the libretto. The handsome lady just 
verging on middle age was a Mrs. Howard. I need 
say no more about her, save that when a friend of hers, 
called Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, became Em- 
peror of the French, he created the handsome lady, 
who had been very kind to him in the days of his ad- 
versity, Comtesse de Beauregard. It would have com- 
pleted the curious character of the story had I chanced 

to meet Jane C in New Zealand as a flourishing 

proprietress of an hotel at Auckland, or Wellington, or 
Christchurch. 

While I was painting and rendering " little services " 
at the Princess's for the not exorbitant salary of fifteen 
shillings a week, my mother had quitted the stage to 
resume her old occupation as a teacher of singing ; and 
my brother was acting at a salary, I think, of £4 a week. 
He would certainly, in these days, have been worth 
from ;^I2 to ;f 15 a week to most managers, for he was 
as good in comedy as he was in tragedy ; his delivery 
in blank verse was unimpeachable, and he had a strong 
and melodious singing voice. His professional name 
was Wynn. Many of the stories relating to my brother 
and Macready have got into print, and many of them 
have been absurdly spoilt in the telling ; but I consider 
myself, as Charles's literary executor, to be the sole as- 
signee of those stories, and I shall relate a very few of 
them as they actually happened. 

I must begin by saying that between Macready and 
my brother there existed a kind of ferocious friendship. 



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1 54 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

The expression may seem paradoxical, but it is literally 
accurate. Macready, whatever he may have been in 
private life, had at the theatre a simply horrible temper, 
and he was in the habit of using at rehearsals, and even 
in an undertone when he was acting, the most scurrilous 
and abusive language — language which my brother 
sometimes passed by with a smile, but which he oc- 
casionally, but hotly, resented. He did not mind Ma- 
cready constantly addressing him as " Beast ; " but he 
objected to having his eyes, his limbs, and his internal 
organs coupled with terms of the grossest invective. 
Yet, oddly enough, the great tragedian, with whom he 
was continually quarrelling, had a grim respect and 
liking for him. He knew him to be a gentleman and a 
scholar, and one, moreover, who was a competent judge 
of picturesque effect and an acute dramatic critic. On 
one occasion Macready, having to play Othello, and 
my brother not being included in the cast, the tragedian, 
on the morning of the performance, thus addressed him : 
" Beast, I want you to go in front to-night, and give me 
afterwards a full and candid opinion as to the merits of 
my acting. Omit nothing ; tell me how I played and 
how I looked. I have an idea that I shall surpass my- 
self this evening." Now, the great actor, I must pre- 
liminarily explain, went through a tremendous amount 
of realistic effort in the part of Othello. It is a fact 
that in the last scene of the play, he would stand at the 
wing just before going on the stage, clenching his fists, 
gnashing his teeth, and that he could be heard to mutter 
fearful imprecations against Desdemona, and savage 
assertions that he could not disbelieve that which he 
had been told by his faithful friend lago. On the stage 
itself he " lived up " to his part in a manner slightly in- 
convenient to those who acted with him : collaring 
some, buflfeting others, and pinching poor Desdemona's 
arms black and blue. Finally, he used, towards the 



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FACING THE WORLD 155 

close of the tragedy, to get into such a disorganised 
physical condition, that he was all perspiration and 
foaming at the mouth, and presented a somewhat shock- 
ing spectacle. 

My brother duly occupied a seat in the front row of 
the dress-circle — I scarcely think that there were any 
stalls at the Princess's in those days — and narrowly 
watched the performance from beginning to end. 
Then he went behind the scenes, and repaired to Ma- 
cready's dressing-room. The great artist was being 
disrobed by his dresser, and was panting with excite- 
ment in an arm-chair. " Well, Beast, what was it 
like ? " My brother told him that he had derived the 
highest gratification from the performance, and he had 
never seen him play Othello more superbly. He was 
magnificent in his speech to the Venetian Senate ; the 
jealousy scenes with lago were splendid ; the murder 
of Desdemona was superb, and he died inimitably. 
Macready's face lighted up more and more as my 
brother answered seriatim his many queries. " Tis 
well. Beast," he observed at last ; " 'tis well, very well ; 
and now, what was my appearance — how did I look, 
Beast?'* My brother cogitated for a moment, and 

then with perfect candour replied, "Z/>&^tf« sweeps 

No irreconcilable quarrel followed this outspoken ex- 
pression of opinion. 

On another occasion Macready was to play Cardinal 
Wolsey in Henry VIII.; and my brother was cast for 
the unimportant part of Cardinal Campeius. Macready 
always dressed Wolsey very sumptuously, and, bear- 
ing in mind the fact, that, on the stage at least, Cam- 
peius or Campeggio held equal rank with himself as a 
Prince of the Church, he was most anxious that the 
Envoy of the Pope should wear a dress consonant in 
splendour with his own ; and, consequently, he asked 
my brother to come to him in his dressing-room before 



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156 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the curtain rose, in order that he — Macready — should 
be able to judge whether the Campeian canonicals were 
en r^gle. But the famous actor reckoned without his 
host. That host was Mr. John Medex Maddox, a 
gentleman who I have before hinted had a frugal 
mind. Charles's cardinalitian panoply had been sup- 
plied from the wardrobe of the theatre, and with ulti- 
mately disastrous results. At a quarter to seven in the 
evening of the performance of Henry VIIL, my brother 
presented himself in Macready's dressing-room. 

The tragedian presented a gorgeous spectacle : — cas- 
sock of scarlet damask, cape of the same material, but 
of rose-coloured hue, point-lacQ petticoat, scarlet vel- 
vet hat and silken tassels and an emerald ring on the 
forefinger of the left hand worn over the glove. As 
for my unfortunate relative, Mr. Smithers, the master 
tailor, had attired him in a red cassock of coarse serge, 
a cut paper petticoat, a cape of pink glazed calico, a 
pasteboard hat covered with red flannel, and an immense 
pair of white Berlin gloves dyed crimson. Macready 
cast one look at him, and with the observation " Mother 
Shipton, by ! " averted his head in horror and dis- 
gust. He went to America shortly after this ; and on 
his return, at the first rehearsal which he held, espied 
my brother on the stage. He was seen first to bury 
his head in his hands and then to shut his eyes very 
tightly. After a while he turned his eyes, still shut, to 
the prompter, and said: " Emden, is it gone?" Mr. 
Emden, the father of the well-known architect, and 
who was afterwards the partner of Robson in the 
lesseeship of the Olympic, replied : " Who is gone, or 
what is gone, Mr. Macready ? " " The — Beast," re- 
plied Macready with a groan. He had, however, soon 
afterwards to recognise the presence of my brother, 
who was playing a not unimportant part in the piece 
rehearsed, but the words with which he accompanied 



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FACING THE WORLD 157 



a shake of the hand were peculiar. He said : " Oh 
Lord ! How do you do ? " 

With all this, Macready and Charles Kerrison got on 
generally very well together; and when Bulwer Lyt- 
ton's Richelieu was brought out, the creator of the part 
insisted that my brother should play the part of Fran- 
cois, in opposition to the wishes of Maddox, who was 
desirous that the character should be supported by a 
young lady. He was altogether an odd person, this 
William Charles Macready, high-minded, generous, 
just, but the slave, on the stage, of a simply ungovern- 
able temper. Homo duplex. There were two Ma- 
creadys. I never was able to persuade the late Sir 
Frederick and Lady Pollock, who knew the tragedian 
intimately in private life — who admired his genius and 
reverenced his unblemished character — that at re- 
hearsal he could be a bully and a ribald, and use 
towards women as well as towards men language 
which a beggar in his drink would not use to his callet. 
I only remember, with the exception of my brother, 
two actors with whom he was on terms of even tol- 
erable intimacy ; these favoured actors were John 
Cooper and John Ryder. 

Macready exulted in his histrionic triumphs ; yet he 
seemed to hate and to be ashamed of his profession ; 
nor would he ever suffer his children to witness plays 
in which he himself performed. In private life, where 
I never met him, he is said to have been a courteous 
and polished gentleman, the beloved friend of Dickens, 
of Jerrold, of Forster, of Bulwer and of Maclise. It is 
curious likewise to.recall that he was extremely popular 
with the subordinate employes of the theatre. One 
carpenter, I remember, he always "tipped" with a 
sovereign at the beginning of every season, saying : 
" Thomas Heaford, I am glad to see you ; and you are 
an honest man ; *' and he would shake hands with Tom 



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158 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Heaford. It was only on the professional votaries of 
the sock and buskin that he poured the vials of his 
wrath. With Maddox he never openly quarrelled ; 
and indeed, on one occasion that doughty little mana- 
ger had the courage to rebuke him at rehearsal for the 
unseemly language which he had been using ; although 
he somewhat inconsistently concluded his remon- 
strance by saying : " It's such a d d bad example ! ** 

Macready was not a sayer of good things ; although 
upon occasion he could be droll; and he was truly 
comic in such parts as Doricourt in the Beaux' Strata^ 
gem and James of Scotland in the King of the Commons. 
One certainly humorous remark he made to my brother 
when Sir Henry Taylor's splendid, but unactable, 
drama Philip von Artevelde was produced at the Prin- 
cess's. Maddox spent what was then considered a 
very large sum of money on the production of this 
piece ; and on the first night in the famous market- 
place scene, where a riotous and famine-stricken mob 
were introduced, there were as many as a hundred 
and fifty " supers '* on the stage. Sir Henry Taylor's 
play was not precisely damned ; but it fell dismally 
flat ; and on the second night of its performance Mad- 
dox, always of a frugal mind, cut down the number of 
"supers" to about forty. I forget what part my 
brother played; but in the market-place scene, Ma- 
cready had to lean on Charles's shoulder ; and as he 
did so, pointing towards the sadly diminished crowd, 
he whispered to him : " Famine has done its work. 
Beast!" 

Towards the close of my stay at the Princess's, 
Charles Mathews and Madame Vestris joined the 
company ; and their engagement was a brilliantly suc- 
cessful one. Connected with this engagement, I remem- 
ber a somewhat ludicrous circumstance. Mathews, 
whom I had known from my childhood, was about to 



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FACING THE WORLD 1 59 

proceed on a provincial tour, and he wanted the parts 
in two or three comedies and farces copied. I did the 
work, but I had some difficulty in obtaining payment 
thereof ; however, I managed to screw the drachmas 
out of him by instalments ; and when he went away, 
he left unpaid a balance of, I think, seven and sixpence. 
This was in 1847. More than twenty years afterwards 
Mathews called upon me in Clarges Street, Piccadilly, 
where I was then living, and asked me whether I 
would render him some trifling assistance on an occa- 
sion which was then imminent. A public dinner at 
Willis's Rooms was about to be given him, prior to his 
departure for India ; and characteristically enough he 
intended to take the chair himself and to propose his 
own health. After that I was to take up the running 
and make the speech of the evening: dwelling, of 
course, in detail on the merits of an incomparable light 
comedian and excellent fellow. 

I scarcely remember how it came about that I pleas- 
antly reminded him of that still outstanding balance of 
seven and sixpence. "For goodness* sake," he said, 
" put the seven and sixpence in your speech. Do put 
it in your speech ; now, won't you ? The people will 
roar with laughter." I promised to do that which he 
asked me, and I made a passing allusion to the seven 
and sixpence; but the company did not roar with 
laughter ; they were mainly composed of " pros ; " and 
from the extremity of the banqueting hall there were 
audible a few hisses ; which sibilation only confirmed 
me in the opinion which I, the son of an actress and 
the brother of an actor, have long since held, that ordi- 
nary " pros " are about the most conceited of mankind. 
In mentioning that seven and sixpence I had evidently 
trodden on the corns of the Second Grave-digger, or 
of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or " Charles his 
friend." 



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l60 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

I can say that there are not many playgoers who 
can remember Charles Mathews in-a practically serious 
character ; yet such a character I saw him assume 
under the Maddox management. It had occurred to 
some French playwright to dramatise Richardson's 
ponderous and pathetic drama of Clarissa Harlowe. 
The drama achieved a considerable success in Paris ; 
and Maddox had it forthwith translated into English 
by the " stock " or hack-author at the Princess's, a Mr. 
Reynoldson. I copied out the parts and helped to paint 
the scenery. Ryder, I think, played the "heavy 
father," and wonderful to relate, Charles Mathews 
played Lovelace. Clarissa Harlawe was the reverse of 
successful. The Mr. Reynoldson whom I have just 
mentioned was a gentleman of considerable talent, who 
in his youth had known Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 
He had been for some time on the stage, and noted as 
the original Mr. Pickwick in the version of Dickens's 
novel brought out at the Strand Theatre during the 
management of Mr. W. J. Hammond. There was a 
tradition at the Princess's that Maddox was in the 
habit of locking up Mr. Reynoldson in an upper room 
in the theatre ; leaving him a sufficiency of cold meat 
and bread and alcoholic stimulants, and not releasing 
him until he had finished translating the appointed 
drama or farce : thus practically carrying out the as- 
pirations of the Parisian bookseller of the last century, 
who was wont to remark that if he could only keep 
Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot under lock and key in 
a garret without any money and without their panta- 
loons, they would write him the sweetest little books 
imaginable, by means of which he would realise as 
sweet a little fortune. As, however, I shared during 
many months Mr. Reynoldson's apartment, and in the 
intervals of my work in the painting-room I often 
helped him in translating, I am able to declare that the 



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FACING THE WORLD l6l 



lock-and-key story was a baseless myth. On the other 
hand, I am afraid that the poor stock-author did not 
get more than £3 a week. 

One word more touching translations. Reynoldson 
was away ill ; and one morning Maddox gave me a 
French vaudeville called [/m Chatnbre h deux LitSy and 
bade me render it into English. In the course of a 
couple of days my work was finished, and was sub- 
mitted to Mr. Compton, who was then our low come- 
dian ; but he failed to see any fun in the farce. Not 
long afterwards the immortal drollery of Box and Cox 
was produced at the Lyceum; the two male charac- 
ters being played by Harley and Charles Mathews ; 
and Box and Cox was only an adaptation of Une Cham- 
bre it deux Lits, with portions of another French farce 
grafted on to it. It is necessary to accentuate this fact, 
as there was produced at the Haymarket, some years 
previous to 1847, apiece called The Double-bedded Room^ 
in which the part of an irascible old gentleman was 
played, with consummate ability, by William Farren 
the elder. The adaptor of this screaming little piece 
was Mr. Thomas Madison Morton, who died a 
Brother of the Charterhouse. When he passed awa)^ 
most of the newspapers spoke of him as the " author " 
of Box and Cox, 

I left the Princess's soon after the production of the 
Christmas pantomime, on which I had worked most 
assiduously not only in helping to paint the scenery, 
but in assisting to model the masks and other " prop- 
erties." I left on the most amicable terms with Mad- 
dox, who, I daresay, had I asked him, would have 
raised my ridiculously small salary ; but there was 
growing up within 'me a conviction that I was not 
destined to excel as a scenic artist In architecture I 
was fairly proficient, but I had no kind of taste for 
landscape painting ; and I suffered from what was 



II 



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l62 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

practically a kind of colour-blindness, inasmuch that I 
could not be prevented from mixing black with almost 
every pigment on my palette ; even now no ink is 
sable enough for me, and at the Princess's I used to 
be known in the painting-room as " the gentleman in 
black." 

When I went away from Maddox, William Beverly 
also left the Princess's, to take service under the ban- 
ner of Vestris and Charles Mathews, at the Lyceum ; 
and I served the great scene-painter, as an assistant, 
for a few weeks, at a salary of thirty shillings a week, 
, helping in the scenery for one of Planch6*s extrava- 
ganzas. Then my old friend Wilson, who had been 
second scene-painter at the Princess's, had undertaken 
a commission to paint a panorama of the city of Mex- 
ico ; and, in this panorama, I executed all the figures. 
I little dreamt, while painting caballeroSy in coach- 
wheel hats and serapes^ and senoras in black ribososy that 
I was destined, sixteen years afterwards, to sojourn in 
Mexico city, and to wear a coach-wheel hat and a 
striped blanket myself. ^Wilson, however, could not 
afford to pay me any very considerable sum for the 
slight help I rendered him. I painted a couple of 
scenes, a drawing-room, and a cottage for the Stand- 
ard Theatre, in Shoreditch, and then I bade a reluc- 
tant but definitive, adieu to scene-painting. 



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CHAPTER XV 

FACING THE WORLD (CONTINUED) 

I WAS nineteen years of age, and desperately poor. 
My mother had settled down in her old quarters at 
Brighton. I was too proud to ask for help from any- 
body, although my good and kind cousins, Elise and 
Sara, insisted on sending me weekly parcels of gro- 
ceries and so forth ; but for many months such a thing 
as dinner was more conspicuous by its absence than 
by its presence. I had accumulated a very large col- 
lection of pen-and-ink drawings, mainly of a would-be 
comic character, and one day, when I had reached, as 
I thought, the extremity of indigence, I happened to 
meet, in the Strand, an old friend of our family, Mr. 
Charles Dance, a popular dramatic author. I asked 
him if he knew any publisher who wanted caricatures 
to illustrate light literature ; and he told me that there 
had been recently published a monthly periodical of a 
facetious kind, called the Man in the Moony which was 
edited by Albert Smith and Angus B. Reach. I can- 
not at this time recollect whether Charles Dance sent 
me at once with a letter of introduction to Albert 
Smith, or whether he introduced me to Shirley 
Brooks, who gave me the letter in question ; but, at 
all events, I know that one forenoon I found myself 
in the studio — Albert's studio-study — in a house which 
he occupied in conjunction with his brother Arthur, 
in Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road. 

Albert Smith was then scarcely thirty ; but he had 
been so prolific a writer, he had so swiftly obtained 



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1 64 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



Metropolitan, if not European, celebrity, that he 
seemed to me to be at least fifty. He has been dead 
thirty-four years, but I can recall him, as a sturdy- 
looking, broad-shouldered, short-necked man, with 
grey eyes, and flowing locks of light brown and large 
side-whiskers; later in life he wore a beard, and, on 
the whole, he bore fatally a most curious resemblance 
to Mr. Comyns Carr. His voice was a high treble ; 
his study resembling a curiosity shop; although the 
curios were not highly remarkable from the standpoint 
of high art, and were not very antique. Littered 
about the room, which was on the ground floor, were 
piles of French novels, in yellow paper covers, dolls, 
caricatures, toys of every conceivable kind, a ddbar- 
detise silk shirt, crimson sash, and velvet trousers, the 
white linen raiments of a Pierrot, cakes of soap from 
Vienna, made in the similitude of fruit, iron jewellery 
from Berlin of the historic " Ich gab Gold fur Eisen " 
pattern, miniature Swiss chilets, porcelain and meer- 
schaum pipes — ^although Albert was no smoker — ^and 
the model of a French diligence. 

The owner of this queer assemblage of odds and 
ends was clad in a blue blouse. Albert had been edu- 
cated for the medical profession, and a fellow-student 
of his, in Paris, was, I believe, my gallant and es- 
teemed friend, General Sir Henry de Bathe. I have 
a suspicion that the author of " Mr. Ledbury and his 
Friend, Jack Johnson,** had not entirely abandoned 
professional practice when I called on him in Percy 
Street ; for there was a very large brass plate, with 
his name on it, at the street door ; and the back study, 
which exhibited signs of the apparatus of a surgeon 
dentist, was possibly used as a consulting room, if any 
patients cared to visit Albert, in order to consult him. 

He was one of the kindest and cheeriest of man- 
kind, and reminded me that he had seen me when I 



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FACING THE WORLD 16$ 



was a mere boy ; when he was bringing out, in con- 
junction with Charles Kenney, at the Princess's, a bur- 
lesque called Cherry and Fairstar^ Cherry being played 
by Mrs. H. P. Grattan, who wore, I remember, a 
tunic, made of some extraordinary fabric, into which 
spun-glass entered largely. It was supplied, I believe, 
by a then well-known firm of drapers of Compton 
Street, Soho, and cost, it was said, three guineas a 
yard. The work-women in the wardrobe complained, 
however, that the exceptional fabric was apt to cut 
their fingers. Albert at once commissioned me to 
make some comic drawings on wood for the Man in 
the Moony to the literary portion of which he, Angus 
Reach, Shirley Brooks, and Charles Kenney, were the 
most constant contributors. 

The Man in the Moon was at daggers drawn with 
Punchy or, rather, with Mark Lemon and Douglas Jer- 
rold, and Shirley Brooks, destined in after years to be 
the editor of the drollest and the wholesomest peri- 
odical that has ever been published in England, penned 
in the Vir Lund of scathing satire, in rhyme called, 
** Our Flight with Punchy' in which, while ample jus- 
tice was done to the writings of Thackeray and Gil- 
bert h. Beckett, abuse was unmercifully showered on 
Jerrold, with whom Albert himself, one of the earliest 
contributors to Punchy had had some bitter personal 
quarrel. What Brooks's grievance was against the 
sage of Fleet Street I am unable to remember, but I 
know that at the time in question he hated the author 
of " Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures " most cordially. 

Charles Shirley Brooks was in all respects a remark- 
able man. When I first knew him he was thirty-two 
years of age, and eminently handsome. He was the 
son of an architect of repute, who, among other 
works, designed the London Institution, in Finsbury 
Circus. He was trained for the law ; but abandoned 



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l66 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

legal studies to become a dramatist and extravaganza 
writer, an essayist, and a humorous poet. His stand- 
by, however, was as a journalist, in which capacity he 
wrote for some time the Parliamentary summary for 
the Morning Chronicle. Whether he was married in 
1847 I ^"^ ^ot quite sure; but the lady whom he did 
espouse, and whom, in later years, I had the honour to 
know very well, was one of two sisters named Walk- 
inshaw, who, from the difference between their re- 
spective complexions, were known in society as 
" Night " and " Morning," the sobriquets being obvi- 
ously borrowed from the title of Bulwer Lytton's then 
just published romance. I had seen the Misses Walkin- 
shaw, while I was drawing from the " round," in Mr. 
Carl Schiller's studio, and that artist painted the mini- 
atures of both young ladies. The future Mrs. Shirley 
Brooks was a brunette, and, consequently, " Night." 

Albert not only gave me at once remunerative work 
as a comic draughtsman, but sent me with a letter to 
his co-editor, Angus Bethune Reach, an author and 
journalist, to whose brilliant talents not half enough 
justice has been done by a cruelly forgetful genera- 
tion. He was a perfervid Highlander, bom at Inver- 
ness, and the son of a Writer to the Signet. When I 
first knew him he was not more than six-and-twenty. 
He, too, had a standby as a shorthand-writer, also for 
the Morning Chronicle^ in the gallery of the House of 
Commons. Shirley afterwards went to Southern Rus- 
sia, as Angus Reach did to the South of France, to 
Write letters, supplementing Henry Mayhew's letters 
in the Chronicle on " London Labour and the London 
Poor." Angus Reach was one of the most laborious 
and the most prolific writers I have ever met with. 
It was no uncommon thing with him to work sixteen 
hours a day. Over and over, during the Session, have 
I dined with him at half-past two in his rooms in Tav- 



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FACING THE WORLD 167 



istock Street, Covent Garden, and punctually at a 
quarter to four he would go to the House to slave at 
reporting and transcribing his notes until perhaps two 
in the morning ; but he was at his desk again on the 
morrow at nine, and did not rise therefrom until din- 
ner-time. He wrote innumerable short stories for 
the magazines, and essays, comic handbooks, and 
comic ** copy " for the Man in the Moon. He produced 
a capital sensational novel called " Clement Lorimer ; 
or, The Book with the Iron Clasps," a romance, un- 
less I am mistaken, of which Dion Boucicault pre- 
served a lively remembrance when he wrote his drama 
of the Flying Scud. 

Notwithstanding the tremendous pressure of the 
work which he did, Angus Reach would find time to 
enjoy himself, as literary men about town did at that 
period, and was to be found behind the scenes, or in 
front of the playhouses, or at supper and singing- 
rooms, or at the nightly gatherings of a hostelry in the 
Haymarket, called the Caf6 de TEurope, This caf6 
was kept by a very worthy gentleman, whose name, I 
think, was Hemming, who had been for some years an 
actor of considerable standing at the Haymarket, and 
owed his conversion into a Boniface to a somewhat 
strange mischance. Macready, in one of his engage- 
ments at the Haymarket, was playing Shylock, and the 
part of Tubal was assigned to a Mr. Gough. Now, the 
dress of Tubal, as a Jew of Venice, was precisely simi- 
lar in pattern, if not in texture, to that of Shylock. It 
was, in a sumptuary sense, a case of Cardinal Wolsey 
and Cardinal Campeius over again. Hemming being at 
the foot of the staircase leading to the dressing-room, 
descried, as he thought, his friend Gough, attired 
as Tubal, slowly ascending the stairs. Forthwith he 
proceeded to indulge in the lively form of practical 
joking known as " ballooning " ; that is to say, he placed 



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l68 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SAL A 

his two hands on Tubal's hips, and, carrying him ofiF his 
feet, violently propelled him upstairs to the landing. 

Arrived there, the supposed Tubal turned round to 
reveal, to the horror-stricken Hemming, the counte- 
nance empurpled with fiercest wrath of William Charles 
Macready. " I am sure I beg your pardon, sir,*' stam- 
mered the actor ; " but I took you for Mr. Gough." 
" He took me for Mr. Gough—for Mr. Gough I " re-echoed 
the outraged tragedian, casting his eyes upwards, as 
though invoking the interposition of the Avenging 
Sprite. Hemming was discharged ; but his friends 
rallied round him and enabled him to set up in busi- 
ness as landlord of the Caf6 de TEurope. In the 
cofifee-room thereof used to gather night after night 
many of the wits and good fellows of the period, his- 
trionic, artistic, literary, and legal. There one met 
Horace May hew and Percival Leigh, oi Punch; Bou- 
cicault, Harry Baylis — the Hal Baylis who drives the 
" Wain of Life " in Thomas Hood's ** Ode on a Distant 
View of Clapham Academy." There was also a Mr. 
Frederick Mahomet, or Mahomed, the son of a very 
worthy East Indian, whom I remember in my earliest 
childhood as a proprietor of some baths at Brighton, 
associated with which was a shampooing department, 
which apparently benefited the proprietor's clients to 
so great an extent, that the vestibule of the establish- 
ment was hung with the crutches of former martyrs to 
rheumatism, sciatica, and lumbago, whose vigorous 
and scientific shampooing had restored them to health. 

The shampooer was, I think, an eccentric ; and, in his 
moments of unbending, used to sing to some Oriental 
tune, swaying his body to and fro meanwhile, a song 
of which I can only remember the first line, and the 
refrain — 

" The ducks and the geese have all come over, 
Sakerdeen Mahomed, Sakerdeen Mahomed ! " 



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FACING THE WORLD 169 



Whence the ducks and geese had come, and whether 
they had emigrated for the purpose of being sham- 
pooed by the excellent Sakerdeen Mahomed, I have no 
means of ascertaining. Another gentleman, who had 
something to do with Mordan's gold pencils, was also 
a frequenter of the Caf6 de TEurope, where also might 
be seen almost every night a tall, elderly gentleman, 
whose polished and stately manners always used to put 
me in mind of Richardson's " Sir Charles Grandison." 
He had had a curious career. He was a Scottish bar- 
onet of ancient descent, and had succeeded to the title 
in youth; but the widow of a pre-deceased brother 
having given birth to a son and heir, he was unbar- 
oneted. His nephew, however, died, and the tall old 
gentleman once more became a Bart. 

The Man in the Moon was financed by Messrs. In- 
gram and Cooke, the proprietors of the Illustrated Lon- 
don News ; and the office of the little periodical, which 
Albert and Angus edited, was in Crane Court, Fleet 
Street ; the cashier being a Mr. Jabez Hogg, afterwards 
to be known and celebrated as Doctor Jabez Hogg, 
M.R.C.S., Fellow of the Royal Microscopic Society — 
of which he was first president— consulting surgeon to 
several hospitals, and Fellow of a host of scientific so- 
cieties. When I first had the honour to know him he 
had brought out a manual of photography. This 
brought him into close contact with Herbert Ingram, 
the founder of the great illustrated paper, who had 
early conceived the idea that photography could be 
utilised in connection with illustrated journalism. Mr. 
Ingram's watch, in this regard only, went a little too 
fast. He died before the introduction into pictorial 
journalism of those sooty, smoky, and blurred proc- 
esses with which the illustrated press, high and low, 
is now afflicted. 

There was also engaged, in the commercial depart- 



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I70 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



ment of the Illustrated News itself, a gentleman by the 
name of Barnabas Brough, who had four very clever 
sons and two as clever daughters. It is only of two of 
the sons of whom I intend at present to speak. These 
were Robert Barnabas and William. Mr. Brough, 
senior, had been in business at Liverpool ; and in that 
mighty city Robert and, I think, William, had tried 
their 'prentice hands in comic journalism, in a little 
paper called The Liverpool Lion. Summoned by their 
sire to the Metropolis, Robert became a contributor, 
both literary and artistic, to the Man in the Moon^ 
while the two brothers Brough very soon obtained 
celebrity as joint-authors of burlesques at the Hay- 
market Theatre. Robert married Miss Elizabeth 
Romer, a daughter of a well-known watchmaker in 
Liverpool, a kinsman of the famous English/r/w^i donna 
Miss Romer, and of Frank Romer, a professor of music, 
whose son, after taking the great prize of a Senior 
Wrangler at Cambridge, is now an English judge, uni- 
versally respected for his learning, and as widely es- 
teemed for the amiability of his character. 

It was not only on the Man in the Moon that Albert 
Smith gave me employment; he was continually 
bringing out little shilling illustrated books of wag- 
geries — Natural Histories of " the Gent," the " Medi- 
cal Student," "The Ballet Girl," "Physiologies of 
Evening Parties," " Pottles of Strawberries," " Was- 
sail Bowls," " Bowls of Punch," and so forth, most, if 
not all, of which were published by Mr. David Bogue, 
of Fleet Street, hard by the Church of St. Bride, and 
over against the publishing office of Punch. The artis- 
tic staff of the Man in the Moon numbered, in addition 
to your humble servant, a prolific draughtsman by the 
name of Archibald Henning, of whom I shall have 
something more to say anon, and Mr. H. G. Hine, the 
drollest of draughtsmen, and one of the earliest of the 



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FACING THE WORLD 171 

Punch artists. He had already attained some degree 
of reputation as an artist in water-colours, and was 
known among connoisseurs as the executant of the 
most subtle work in aquarelle, called "London in a 
Fog." 

But very few of those who knew him suspected that, 
in after years, he was to become one of the most con- 
spicuous members of the Society of Painters in Water 
Colours. Strange indeed is the genesis of some of 
the water-colour artists whom I have known in my 
time. Louis Haghe, who was originally a scene- 
painter, and lost his right hand by the desperately 
rapid running down of the cord of a windlass in the 
painting-room, I remember as a partner in the firm of 
Day and Haghe, chromo-lithographic artist engravers, 
and printers, in Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields; 
while Birket-Foster, another famous water-colourist, 
worked for a long time as a draughtsman on wood for 
Ebenezer Landells, the engraver, and for Henry and 
James Vizetelly, whose offices were at Peterborough 
Court, Fleet Street, on part of the site of the existing 
palatial bureaux of the Daily Telegraph. The future 
renowned portrayer of English river sylvan scenery 
drew at least one comic cartoon for Punch, This was 
the travesty of George Cruikshank's etching of " Jack 
Sheppard carving his Name on the Beam," Punches 
"Jack" being Lord John Russell, when Prime Min- 
ister, 

To one of the little shilling books, " A Bowl of 
Punch," I was called upon by Albert to contribute 
illustrations. He had translated Burger's " Ballad of 
Lenore," and the margins of the pages were, I will not 
say adorned, but illustrated, with tiny woodcut-vign- 
ettes from my pencil. They were mainly sentimental ; 
and some of them, as befitted the ballad, were ghastly ; 
the inspiration for the last-named being derived from 



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172 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



the sumptuous outline illustrations to Burger, drawn 
by the renowned Moritz Retsch, the creator of the out- 
lines illustrating Goethe's " Faust," the " Fight with 
the Dragon," and of the " Pfarrer's Tochter von Tau- 
benheim." My drawing these thumbnail -vignettes 
led to my being introduced, first to Mr. Bogue, the 
publisher, and subsequently to the Brothers Vizetelly, 
who engraved my drawings on the blocks. 

At Mr. Bogue's I often met dear old George Cruik- 
shank, to whom, as a boy, I had gone with a portfolio 
full of pen-and-ink drawings, when he resided in Am- 
well Street, Pentonville. I remember that he gave me 
very good advice, counselling me to take the earliest 
opportunity to begin the study of artistic anatomy; 
for that, he said, " will set you all right with your pel- 
vis ; and what are you, and what can you do, if your 
pelvis is wrong?" I was so ignorant at the time that 
I obscurely imagined that the pelvis was a convertible 
term for the stomach-ache ; but in process of time, 
when I began to work in Carl Schiller's studio, I found 
out all about the pelvis, and have been a diligent stu- 
dent of artistic anatomy until my eyes refused to serve 
me graphically any longer. George — if I may be 
allowed to use an Americanism, which has almost be- 
come an English expression — had pelvis on the brain. 
Many years afterwards I enjoyed the intimate friend- 
ship of Watts Phillips the dramatist, whose plays, nota- 
bly, the powerful drama of The Dead Hearty should 
have brought him a large fortune ; but, as a matter of 
fact, it barely brought him food and shelter. Watts 
Phillips, who was a most facile draughtsman and pic- 
torial humourist, had been an articled pupil of George 
Cruikshank ; and it used to tickle me immensely when 
he told me that George was perpetually enjoining him 
to " take care of his pelvis," without which, artistically, 
no success could be attained. In this respect I am 



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FACING THE WORLD 1 73 



afraid George must be regarded in the light of a guide- 
post. He set you in the right direction, but he did 
not travel thither himself ; and his figures exhibit few 
signs of anatomical proficiency; yet did my friend 
William Romer, the brother of Mrs. R. B. Brough, 
and who was a student of the Royal Academy, tell me 
that he has often seen George Cruikshank, when he 
must have been more than seventy years of age, sedu- 
lously drawing in the life school at Burlington House, 
during the time when Charles Landseer, R.A., was 
Keeper. More than half a century before he had been 
a pupil at the Royal Academy at Somerset House, 
under the Keepership of Henry Fuseli. 

I need scarcely observe that I required something 
more than the sum which I earned by the little draw- 
ings I made for the Man in the Moon and for Mr. 
Bogue, to keep body and soul together. There was a 
Mr. Fitz-James, an actor of some note, who, during 
the railway mania, had turned outside broker — 
" stag " was the less complimentary term applied, in 
1845, ^o the financial Bohemian who hung about 
Capel Court — and had made a good deal of money ; 
but ce qui vient par la flUte s'en va par le tambour y and 
Mr. Fitz-James returned to the stage. I knew him 
well, and he gave me a letter to one Mr. Calvert, a 
wood-engraver, who lived " over the water," in the 
Belvedere Road, Lambeth. Mr. Calvert was not by ' 
any means a high art xylographer ; he was, indeed, 
exclusively employed in preparing the blocks for the 
illustration of a number of cheap, and it must be ad- 
mitted, vulgar weekly publications — prominent among 
which was a large sheet called the Penny Sunday 
Times ; and he also furnished the illustrations to a 
large number of novels published in weekly numbers, 
to which was given the generic title of " Penny Dread- 
fuls." He himself employed the draughtsmen, who 



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174 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



drew on the blocks the design which he engraved, or 
rather chopped ; and he was glad to have my assist- 
ance, because I had been so long in a theatre that I 
had an extensive knowledge of costumes of almost 
every country and almost every period. So he set me 
to work at once ; and I used to spend from three to 
four hours every morning at his studio in the Belve- 
dere Road. He was an odd fish ; he would work des- 
perately hard until dinner time, which was at one 
p.m., but after that repast he would not do another 
stroke of work ; and for the remainder of the after- 
noon and evening he devoted himself to recreation — 
chiefly, I should say, to skittles. 

I should add that the Penny Sunday Times and the 
•' Penny Dreadfuls " were the property of a Mr. Ed- 
ward Lloyd — ^afterwards to be very well-known as the 
founder and proprietor of Lloyd^s Weekly Newspaper — 
who, towards the close of his life, was elected by the 
Political Committee of the Reform Club a member of 
that distinguished body. Murders were the topics 
which I generally treated in the Penny Sunday Times^ 
and when there was a lack of assassinations, one had 
to fall back upon such topics as child-stealing, incendi- 
arism, burglary under arms, and the infliction of the 
knout on Russian princesses. The titles of the 
" Penny Dreadfuls," with one exception, I forget, but 
there were scores of them. The one which I recollect 
was a romance of the days of Edward IV., and it bore 
the attractive title of " The Heads of the Headless." 
The author of this marrow-freezing fiction was an old 
gentleman named Saville Faucit, who had been, I 
fancy, an actor and a playwright, and who was the 
father of the delightful actress, Miss Helen Faucit, 
now Lady Martin. Mr. Edward Lloyd, Mr. Calvert, 
and I got on very well on the whole for several 
months ; although, on one occasion, the proprietor of 



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FACING THE WORLD 175 

the " Penny Dreadfuls " sent me a mild letter of re- 
monstrance, begging me to put a little more vigour 
into my drawings on wood. " The eyes," he wrote, 
" must be larger, and there must be more blood — 
much more blood ! " 

Calvert had only one assistant as a wood-engraver ; 
this was an aged practitioner, by the name of Arm- 
strong, a person whom I shall always remember, and 
who was, to me, singularly interesting, inasmuch as he 
had been a pupil of Thomas Bewick, the father of 
modern English wood-engravings. He had a delight- 
ful store of stories to tell me about Bewick himself, 
about his pupils, Harvey and Landells, and Luke 
Clennell ; and he could remember when John Gilbert, 
when quite a lad, had begun to make drawings on 
wood, and would accept so small a sum as half a 
guinea for an initial letter. A good many outside 
draughtsmen were employed by Calvert, and among 
them was Robert Cruikshank, the brother of the fa- 
mous George, There was also an artist, whose name 
I forget, who, in the days of the " Annual," and " Am- 
ulets," and " Keepsakes," and " Offerings," and " For- 
get-Me-Nots," and other sumptuously illustrated gift- 
books, had been employed to make the pencil-drawings 
for the line-engravers to work from. More delicate 
pencilling than his I have rarely beheld ; but it was 
lamentable to see his beautiful cross-hatching ruth- 
lessly slashed by Calvert's graver and shading tools ; 
while poor old Mr. Armstrong, who in his day had 
executed work of the highest kind, was fain to be also 
a " scauper " and a slasher, because the engraver could 
not afford to pay him a sufficient sum for really artis- 
tic work. 



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CHAPTER XVI 

GETTING ON 

I GOT rather tired of " Penny Dreadfuls " about the 
beginning of 1848. A firm of engravers in Paternoster 
Row, by the name of Nicholls, gave me a remunera- 
tive commission for a series of reduced copies of Kaul- 
bach's charming illustrations of "Reynard the Fox; " 
while for Ebenezer Landells, also a well-known wood 
engraver, I drew the illustrations to Alfred Bunn*s 
" Word with Punchy To Landells belongs the credit 
of being the founder of the first illustrated newspaper, 
specially intended for the edification of the fair sex. 
This was The Lady's Newspaper, for which I made 
many drawings ; and I should say that the familiarity 
which I was obliged to acquire with regard to frills, 
flounces, and furbelows, together with my experience 
as a periodical stocktaker in the wardrobes of the 
Princess's Theatre, gave me that taste for collect- 
ing fashions and fashion-books, which has been one of 
my many literary crazes. Among the others are a per- 
sistent and fierce desire of getting together everything 
graphic or plastic relating to Napoleon the Great and 
the Duke of Wellington. Next in intensity I note the 
craze of collecting cookery books: ^'sX penchant I as- 
cribe to having been, as I have before pointed out, 
practically taught to cook when I was a boy. An al- 
most equally active propensity to gather up various 
editions of " The State Trials," " The Newgate Calen- 
dar," " The Malefactor's Register," " The Causes Cel^- 
bres," and any odd volumes of the " Old Bailey Ses- 



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GETTING ON 177 



sions Papers " that I can come across, I cannot easily 
account for. But everything has its final cause. The 
final cause of bread is to be eaten ; of a so-called im- 
pregnable fortress, to be taken ; of a burglar-proof safe, 
to be forced open by burglars. Perhaps the final cause 
of my collecting criminal literature will be that I shall 
be hanged. 

I still yearned for that regular employment which, 
although at a ridiculously small salary, I had enjoyed 
at the Princess's. Taking the good weeks with the 
bad ones, I could earn when I was about nineteen, 
some thirty -five shillings a week; but there were 
weeks when I did not earn more than ten or twelve 
shillings. I always lived in a garrfct, first in Margaret 
Street, Cavendish Square, next in Carlisle Street, 
Soho, and then Poland Street, Oxford Street In the 
last-named thoroughfare lived a copper -plate en- 
graver, in whose shop window there was a very beau- 
tiful working model of a copper-plate printing press, I 
can see the wheel, the roller, the blanket, and the tiny 
copper-plate now. I could already draw minutely, if 
not symmetrically in pen and ink, and I resolved to 
teach myself to etch. 

I dined for a week on bread and cheese — sometimes 
on the bread without the cheese — and I purchased 
Fielding's "Art of Engraving," which cost me, I 
think, fifteen shillings. Then I bought a good-sized 
plate and set of etching tools ; and after three or four 
dismal failures, I managed to " lay the ground " of and 
"smoke" my plate. A carpenter made me a large 
square frame over which I stretched a sheet of silver 
paper, and which I attached by means of a string to 
the window bolt ; and then I worked with a will, cov- 
ering the plate with various designs executed with 
more or less elaborate cross-hatching. I shall never 
forget the childish delight which I experienced when 

13 ' 



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178 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

I saw the laborious work of my etching needle shining 
in a glorious golden net-work through the sable var- 
nish of the " ground/* I had carefully read and re- 
read Fielding's directions for using the aquafortis, 
pouring it off, and " stopping out ; " but I felt nervous 
on the subject, and consulting the tradesman, from 
whom I had purchased the plate, I went, by his advice, 
to a practical pictorial engraver who lived in a court 
off Drury Lane. 

There was not the slightest pride about him, for I 
found him in his shirt-sleeves in a room full of squall- 
ing children, with a short pipe in his mouth and a pot 
of half-and-half by his side. He agreed to " bite in " 
my plate for me for seven and sixpence, and to have it 
ready for me in a couple of days. I paid down in ad- 
vance half the stipulated sum; but when at the ap- 
. pointed time I returned to the court off Drury Lane, 
I found to my horror that the engraver who had no 
pride about him had treated my poor needle-work as 
ruthlessly as Calvert used to treat the delicately drawn 
blocks submitted to him. My delicate cross-hatching 
had been bitten into by splodges of black, and in some 
instances unsightly holes had been burnt in the copper. 
Obviously he had used too strong an acid, or he had 
allowed the aquafortis to remain too long on the plate. 
At all events, the disaster put me for a certain time al- 
together out of conceit with etching, and even with 
drawing. 

How it occurred to me, I declare that I am wholly 
unable to remember, but it must have been very 
shortly after the catastrophe of the copper-plate, that I 
made up my mind that I would try and write some- 
thing for the periodical press. I had already made 
one appearance in print — that had been in the winter 
of 1845, when I sent a short story called " Chew Loo 
Kwang; or The Stags of Pekin," to the dear old 



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GETTING ON 1 79 



Family Herald. It was an apologue burlesquing the 
railway mania and the exploits of one George Hudson, 
then known as the Railway King. The story was to 
my great astonishment and delight inserted in the 
Family Herald ; but I was so raw — so "green" I may 
say — ^at the time, that I never asked to be paid for the 
tale ; and when at Christmas time I sent another story 
which was called "Barnard Braddlescrogs," and 
which I know was a shameless imitation of Dickens's 
" Christmas Carol," the little contribution was neither 
published nor returned to me. Once more, I was so 
verdant that I did not ask to have my manuscript re- 
turned. Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will 
learn in no other. I was further discouraged by the 
reception accorded to my finest literary effort by my 
mother's friends at Brighton. A reverend gentleman, 
whose name I am happy to have forgotten, pointed out 
that there were several unjustifiable divorces between 
my nominative and accusative cases — as if I ever knew 
anything about the nominative or accusative cases — 
and an authoress, then somewhat popular, Miss Louisa 
Stewart Costello, opined that in attempting author- 
ship, I had entirely mistaken my vocation. Her 
brother, however, Dudley Costello, who had been a 
captain in the army, and was well-known as a magazine 
writer, bade me be of good heart, but for the time I 
lost that heart, and between 1845 and 1848 I wrote 
nothing for publication. 

In February of the year just mentioned, there broke 
out that revolution in France which, after three days* 
carnage, hurled Louis Philippe from his throne and 
drove that politic monarch and his family into exile. 
I scarcely think that the oddly-assorted gathering of 
politicians, who formed the Provisional Government 
after the Republic was proclaimed, were unanimous in 
desiring the abolition of the monarchy. Ledru Rollin 



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l80 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

and Armand Marrast may have been sincere Republi- 
cans ; but I apprehend that Lamartine the poet, and 
Arago the astronomer, and Odilon Barrot and Cr6- 
mieux were more speculative than militant democrats. 
At all events, the revolution of February had to run 
its appointed course ; to be succeeded after four years* 
plundering and blundering by the unscrupulous, but 
on the whole, salutary despotism of the Second Empire. 

One of the earliest results of Liberty, Equality, and 
Fraternity in France, was the violent expulsion there- 
from of a large number of English workmen who had 
been employed in French factories. This excited a 
sufficiently bad feeling in this country against France ; 
and thij feeling was further embittered by the arrival 
in Eng\|ind of the company of the Parisian Th6dtre 
Historique, who, under the management of M. Hos- 
tein, proposed to give at the National Theatre, Drury 
Lane, Alexandre Dumas's interminable drama of Monte 
Crista. When I say interminable I speak relatively ; 
but the bulky drama in question did extend over at 
least two months. Theatrical, literary, and journalistic 
London was forthwith split up into two camps. There 
were the Gallicans and the anti-Gallicans : one faction 
insisting that M. Hostein and his troupe should be re- 
ceived with cordial hospitality ; the other vehemently 
protesting against "a pack of foreigners" being al- 
lowed to usurp the boards of old Drury. 

On the first night of Monte Crista something like an 
" O.P." riot took place. I was in it on the anti-Galli- 
can side. I was a pugnacious youth with a great 
capacity for quarrelling and getting my head punched ; 
and I think that on the evening in question I emerged 
from the auditorium of Drury Lane with my clothes 
torn half oflf my back, my hat crushed into a pulp, and 
my visage decorated with at least one black eye, most 
assuredly not of a lovely appearance. The turbulent 



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GETTING ON l8l 



pitites hooted the French actors, threw potatoes and 
cabbage stumps from the adjacent market on to the 
stage, and even pelted with analogous missiles Albert 
Smith and a strong party of Gallicans who were seated 
in the front row of the dress-circle. So violent, in- 
deed, was the partisanship displayed on the occasion, 
that it led to a temporary rupture between kind old 
Albert Smith and myself. Charles Mathews the come- 
dian, and Beverly the scene-painter, were also strong 
Gallophobes. The performance of Monte Crista at old 
Drury was swiftly discontinued; but the triumph of 
John BuUism did not put me into the way of repairing 
my damaged apparel or procuring a new hat. 

Something, however, I felt must be done under 
the circumstances, so I wrote a poem in the "Tom 
Ingoldsby " metre, and called it " The Battle of Monte 
Cristo." This lucubration I forthwith took to the 
office of Chaty a little weekly, halfpenny paper pub- 
lished at 304, Strand, the south-west corner of Holy- 
well Street ; — premises which are at present occupied 
by the shop of a well-known bookseller. There was no 
editorial sanctum at the Chat office ; and the proprie- 
tor, Mr. Frederick Marriott, was sitting behind the 
counter by the side of the editor, Mr. Thomas Lyttle- 
ton Holt ; while the publisher, whose name I subse- 
quently found was Wilks, discreetly occupied a stool 
at a high desk in the background. Mr. Marriott very 
courteously read my poem, giving at the same time 
from the till change for a shilling to a small boy who 
had come to buy four copies of Chat. Then he handed 
the verses to the editor, Mr. Holt, a middle-aged gen- 
tleman, with very bushy whiskers, and — a rarity in 
those days — moustaches. Mr. Holt wagged his head 
approvingly, and Mr. Marriott informed me that he 
should be very glad to publish my poem, and he 
handed me a sovereign, saying that there was no need 



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1 82 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

for me to have a proof of it, as the editor could touch 
it up and make it, if it was thought desirable, a " little 
spicier." 

The publication of " The Battle of Monte Cristo " 
led to my contributing every week short articles, 
would-be humorous poems, and comic paragraphs to 
Chat ; and in about six weeks Mr. Marriott, to my 
surprise and joy, told me that Mr. Holt was leaving 
him to start a paper of his own, and that he should be 
very pleased if I would edit the paper. I was just 
twenty years of age, and I knew as much about edit- 
ing as I did about driving a locomotive engine ; but I 
at once accepted the post, and very soon mastered the 
mechanical details of a calling which I was destined 
to pursue long afterwards under very different circum- 
stances. The salary was small, but it was quite enough 
for my needs, and it was paid with unflagging punctu- 
ality every Saturday morning at seven o'clock, when 
the publication of ChatX.O(^ place ; and the first proceed- 
ing of Mr. Wilks was to pay his own salary and mine 
out of the cash received from the newsvendors* boys. 

The position was altogether a strange one for a young 
fellow who had not yet come to his twenty-first year. 
Indeed, I so imperfectly recognised the fact that I was 
still a minor, that two days before the momentous April 
loth, 1848, I went down to Marlborough Police Court, 
and was duly sworn in as a special constable, in view 
of the contingency of a riot at the great Chartist meet- 
ing on Kennington Common, at which the fiery demo- 
crat, Feargus O'Connor, was to preside. My publisher, 
Mr. Wilks, was sworn in at Bow Street, and had his 
station assigned him in the courtyard of Somerset 
House, which immense edifice was additionally crowded 
with regular troops. The Blues were in the basement 
in Lancaster Place, but th*ey were invisible throughout 
the day ; as were the whole of the 20,000 soldiers, horse, 



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GETTING ON 1 83 



foot, and dragoons, who had been distributed all over 
the metropolis by that great master of tactics and 
strategy, Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, K.G. 
There were soldiers in the prisons, soldiers in the work- 
houses, soldiers in the hospitals. Life Guards and Light 
Dragoons in the livery stables ; but not a red-coat was 
to be seen. The preservation of law and order was en- 
tirely entrusted to the Metropolitan Police, under the 
orders of Commissioners Mayne and Rowan, who car- 
ried out their instructions with admirable discretion, 
good temper, and firmness ; and the special constables, 
of whom there were, I should say, about 80,000, were 
massed at certain central points, but were not happily 
called upon to act. 

I was posted in St. James's churchyard, Piccadilly, 
and a remarkably odd gathering some people may have 
considered us. Mr. Benjamin Lumley, lessee and 
manager of Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket, 
had brought down the whole of his carpenters and 
scene-shifters, all properly attested, and all provided 
with stout wooden truncheons. There had been no 
time to paint those batons ; still there could be no doubt 
that the raw timber could be reckoned upon to ad- 
minister the most sounding of thwacks to seditious 
pates had the occasion demanded. The assistance of 
nearly every tradesman in Piccadilly and Regent Street, 
together with the tradespeople themselves, bankers and 
solicitors and their clerks, actors, and doctors, and 
" men about town " were banded together for the nonce 
in perfect equality and harmony. Close to me was the 
then Earl of Chesterfield ; and not far oflf, with a badge 
at his button-hole or round his arm, I forget which, and 
his truncheon in one kid-gloved hand, was a gentleman 
of middling stature and with a very heavy moustache. 
This was Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte ; he was 
just forty years of age ; he had returned to France im- 



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1 84 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

mediately after the revolution ^f February; but the 
Provisional Government had politely requested him to 
take himself oflF again to the place whence he came. 

On the night of Saturday, the 8th of April, I went to 
the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden. What the 
opera was I forget ; but I know that I heard the famous 
baritone, or, rather, basso cantante^ Fomasari. The 
audience was an immense one; but it was restless 
throughout the first act of the opera, and cries for 
" God Save the Queen " grew every ten minutes louder 
and louder. At the end of the first act, the National 
Anthem was sung : each of the principals taking a verse. 
The effect was altogether magnificent ; but there was 
just one brief ripple of merriment when Grisi sang the 
verse apportioned to her. That wonderful cantatrice 
could never master the pronunciation of the English 
language. Quarrelling with Mario once, and having 
denounced him in French and Italian, she thought that, 
by way of a change, she would abuse him in English. 
She wished to bestow upon him the opprobrious epithet 
of " beggar ** ; but she could not succeed in calling him 
anything else but a ^^bak^re^ Similarly, dear Mrs. 
Stirling, having to act the part of a heroine who spoke 
broken English, and wishing to call the villain of the 
piece a traitor in French, addressed him as traiteur. 
Grisi at Covent Garden made only one mistake in her 
verse. She sang : 

** Confound their politics ; 
Frustrate their knavish tricks ; " 

but instead of singing : 

" In thee our hopes we fix," 

she gave the new reading of : 

" In thee our hopes we sUcks.*' 



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GETTING ON 1 85 



The audience had no time to laugh ; for a moment after- 
wards a person at the back of the gallery was so ill- 
advised as to hiss the National Anthem generally. I 
shall never forget the thunderous sound which imme- 
diately followed this rash act ; it was the sound of the 
individual who had hissed being kicked down six flights 
of stairs. 

The time between February and April, 1848, was a 
very troublous one in these kingdoms. There were 
riots in Glasgow, and in a few English provincial towns. 
Ireland was simmering with discontent; and Smith 
O'Brien, Mitchel, and " Meagher of the Sword " had 
been arrested for seditious writing and speaking, to be 
afterwards tried and convicted for the more serious 
offence of high treason. In London the Chartists were, 
to say the least, troublesome ; and there was a small 
physical force party who advocated extreme measures, 
and one of whose leaders — a, black man by the name of 
Cuffy — was tried for treason-felony and transported. 
Trafalgar Square was in a chronic state of unrest and 
part seditious tumult, and for a very short period the 
Metropolitan police were armed with cutlasses. I note 
the fact ; since in TAe Man in the Moon there appeared 
a vignette, representing a police-constable requesting 
a civilian to "move on." The request was accom- 
panied by a blow from the cutlass, which sent the 
civilian's head flying round the corner of the next street. 
I cannot exactly remember whether it was ray pencil 
which was responsible for this comment on public 
affairs. 



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CHAPTER XVII 

EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING 

Meanwhile I had quite enough to do with my task 
of editing Chat. I wrote nearly the whole of the 
paper, myself ; of course with some slight assistance 
from the familiar paste-pot and the harmless, necessary 
scissors. Our contributors were very few, for the 
simple reason that the proprietor's capital was a some- 
what limited one, and that Chat was not a very pros- 
perous enterprise. Mr. Holt sent a column of " copy " 
now and again ; and we had a tolerably regular con- 
tributor in the person of a certain Henry Valentine, 
who had been a theatrical " dresser," and had a num- 
ber of queer stories to tell touching the elder Kean, 
Charles Mayne Younge, Vandenhoff, Macready, 
Phelps, and other shining lights of the dramatic pro- 
fession. My own contributions, exclusive of count- 
less paragraphs of dramatic criticisms, comprised a 
series of essays, called " A Natural History of Beg- 
gars " ; and a series of tragi-comical tales, supposed to 
have been related by convicts at the Antipodes, while 
reposing in their hammocks after sunset ; and to these 
tales I gave the comprehensive title of " The Austral- 
ian Nights* Entertainment." Little did I think that I 
was destined six-and-thirty years afterwards to travel 
in Australia and to hear much stranger tales than I 
had woven about persons of both sexes, who had left 
their country for their country's good. 

One of my stories was that relating to a convict, 
who, with his mate, escaped into the bush, where they 



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EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING 1 8/ 

ran short of provisions ; to aggravate matters the two 
rascals quarrelled, and in a brawl one of them was 
killed. The survivor was asked what his next pro- 
ceeding was, to which he replied, very philosophically, 
" I ate him." If you have ever chanced to read Mar- 
cus Clarke's " For the Term of His Natural Life," you 
will come across horrors not much less harrowing 
than those which I set down in the little halfpenny 
paper. There may be a reason for this. Marcus 
Clarke, who was many years my junior, seems to have 
gone to the very same sources of information touch- 
ing convict-life that I resorted to in 1848. In 1876 he 
was appointed assistant-librarian in the public library 
at Melbourne, and must have studied attentively the 
blue-books relating to convicts in New South Wales 
and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), Victoria 
never having been, luckily, a convict colony ; although 
there was, at one period, a penal establishment at 
Williamstown, the port of Melbourne, where, in 
March, 1867, Price, the superintendent, was murdered 
by a gang of eighty convicts, who nearly tore the un- 
happy official to pieces. 

Now, in 1848, I had been toiling through analogous 
convict literature in the reading-room of the library 
of the British Museum. It was one of my earliest lit- 
erary friends, Mr. Frederick Guest Tomlins, a well- 
known journalist, political writer, and dramatic critic, 
who gave me a letter of recommendation to Sir Henry 
Ellis, the predecessor of Sir Antonio Panizzi, as chief 
librarian of the Museum. The magnificent Pantheon- 
shaped hall of study, devised by Panizzi, had not yet 
been erected ; and the reading-room was a spacious, 
but rather musty-smelling, compartment on the first 
floor of old Montague House. The first book I asked 
for was Dugdale's " Monasticon," a work which I had 
continually been referred to, but over a copy of which 



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1 88 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

I had hitherto never been fortunate enough to stum- 
ble. Then I began to browse among the blue-books, 
and those touching Australia exercised so grim a fas- 
cination over me that I began to conceive the idea 
of " The Australian Nights' Entertainment." Those 
tales, together with " The Natural History of Beg- 
gars/*,are past praying for, in a literary sense. The 
business arrangements of Chat, to say nothing of the 
journalistic one, were carried on in a slightly Bohe- 
mian fashion ; and for many months the publisher omit- 
ted to comply with the law requiring the deposition 
in the Museum library of a copy of every book, news- 
paper, or periodical issued from the press. I am 
afraid that my literary contributions to Chat are not 
to be found in Great Russell Street. 

The little journal was printed for awhile by a Mr, 
Rock, whose place of business was over the water, 
close to the Elephant and Castle ; and at his office, 
whither I repaired every Friday to correct my proofs, 
I frequently met a somewhat singular man of letters 
of whom the present generation probably knows very 
little — if, indeed, it knows anything at all. This was 
Thomas Miller, whom the readers were fond of calling 
" the basket-weaving poet." He had been indeed bred 
to the humble but useful trade of basket-making ; and 
had, early in life, come up to London from the coun- 
try with a good deal of poetry, but a very few pence, 
in his pocket. Some notice was taken of him at the 
outset by society and by the critical journals. He 
was a genius of the Bloom field and Kirk White order, 
and wrote delightfully about rural life. When I knew 
him he was about forty. I liked his prose better than 
his poetry. In particular he was the author of a most 
vigorous and picturesque novel called " Gideon Giles 
the Roper ; " and a modern playwright might do 
worse than disinter this romance from the shelves of 



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EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING 1 89 

the British Museum Library for dramatising pur- 
poses. " Gideon Giles " would exactly suit the stage 
of the Adelphi. 

Of another series of brief essays, or rather, long 
paragraphs, I bitterly regret the total disappearance ; 
the collection was called " A Hundred DiflFerent Faults 
of a Hundred Different Actors," and to these were 
added another century of defects under which as 
many actresses were supposed to be labouring. Rare 
examples of impudent audacity, these juvenile sallies 
in criticism must have been. I was not, however, de- 
void of considerable experience in things theatrical, 
inasmuch as I have said more than once, my early boy- 
hood brought me in constant communication with the 
world behind the scenes ; and as editor of Chat I had 
the run of all the playhouses in London. Theatrical 
stalls were very rarely met with in those days ; and I 
was quite content to get a place in the front row of 
the pit or in the upper boxes. I went to the play, I 
suppose, four nights out of six, and on " the good old 
times " principle, it seems to me that the plays I wit- 
nessed were much more worth seeing than those with 
which we are at present favoured. I saw Macready in 
Lear^ in Werner y in Macbeth, and in Hamlet. At the 
Surrey Theatre I saw a remarkable negro tragedian 
by the name of Ira Aldridge, who made his appear- 
ance at the transpontine house in the rdle of Zanga in 
the Revenge. He had been educated as a minister of 
religion, but happening in his youth to stray to a play, 
house, the performance so dazzled and fascinated him 
that he resolved at all hazards to adopt the stage as 
his profession, and having studied the part of Rollo in 
the play of Pizarro, he made his appearance in that 
character at a private theatre. His friends, however, 
determined that he should be a clergyman. He was 
sent to a theological college at New York and after- 



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I90 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

wards to the University of Glasgow ; but eventually 
he became a professional artist and enacted with much 
success such parts as Othello, Gambia, in The Slave 
and Oroonoko. 

Then I remember that most distinguished tragic 
actress Mrs. Warner, who, in 1844, had undertaken in 
conjunction with Messrs. Phelps and Greenwood, the 
management of Sadler's Wells Theatre. Naturally I 
never beheld Mrs. Siddons ; but Mrs. Warner was the 
best Constance in King John and the best Gertrude in 
Hamlet that ever I saw. She was a lady of the most 
spotless private character; and in her last illness — a 
long and lingering one — Her Majesty the Queen sent 
one of the Royal carriages daily to her residence, that 
she might enjoy the advantages of an airing. To this 
period also belong my reminiscences of that thorough- 
ly capable tragedian and comedian Samuel Phelps, 
whom I much preferred in comedy. His Falstaff was 
a splendid creation, and even better to my mind was 
his amazingly subtle impersonation of Sir Pertinax 
McSycophant. There was a Mrs. Cora Mowatt too at 
the old Olympic : an American actress who was very 
good as Julia in the Hunchback ; and a capable Irish 
comedian named Hudson, who nearly equalled Tyrone 
Power in the part of Rory O'More. Mrs. Ternan, 
Mrs. Fitz-William, Mrs. H. Marston, Mr. Tom Mead, 
Miss Glyn, Mrs. Winstanley, Miss Cooper, Mr. E. L. 
Davenport (another American actor and an excellent 
Benedick), Miss Julia St. George — a handsome and 
most sympathetic Ariel in the Tempest — Mr. Davidge, 
who made a great hit in Malvolio, Mr. George Ben- 
nett, a respectable Henry VHL, likewise belong to the 
period of which I am speaking ; and I have also a dim 
recollection of seeing Falconbridge in King John played 
by a Mr. Henry Betty. 

I say dim because I have never been able to avoid 



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EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING 19I 



mixing up the elder Betty — Master Betty, the Young 
Roscius of the early years of the century — with his 
son. The Bettys p^re et ^Is vrere frequent visitors at 
the CAat office ; and Betty, the father, was, if my rec- 
ollection serves me, a pippin-faced old gentleman who 
wore a spencer, that is to say, a single breasted jacket 
over a tail-coat. The ludicrous derivation of the name 
of this garment is that a certain Lord Spencer, dining 
alone, went to sleep after too copiously partaking of 
old port, and slumbering too close to the fire, his coat 
was set alight and the tails were burnt off, when a foot- 
man opportunely came to rescue his noble master 
from his peril. Lord Spencer was rather tickled by 
the incident than otherwise, and thenceforth wore a 
tailless jacket over his ordinary body coat. The Drap- 
er's Dictionary, by the way, says that the short jacket 
formerly worn both by ladies and gentlemen was 
named after a Lord Spencer, who, meeting with an 
accident in hunting by which his coat tails were torn 
off, afterwards made the abbreviated garment fashion- 
able ; but I prefer the port wine version. 

One more incident of my experience as a dramatic 
critic while editor of CAat I recall with a smile. Some 
time in 1848 or 1849, ^^^ little Strand Theatre was un- 
der the management of William Farren the Elder, on 
the shoulders of whose son the mantle of his extraor- 
dinary talent for the delineation of old men has un- 
deniably descended. Old Mr. William Farren was by 
no means insensible to his own bright histrionic capac- 
ity ; and it was related of him that he one day told 
his company that, having that morning visited the 
long since defunct Hungerford Market, a fishmonger 
had importuned him to purchase a particular fish, 
adding that it was the only cock salmon in the market. 
"And I," continued the impersonator of Sir Peter 
Teazle and Grandfather Whitehead, "am the only 



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192 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

cock salmon on the stage." Mr. Farren and the edi- 
tor of Chat had a slight misunderstanding with regard 
to some criticism which I had indited touching one of 
his performances ; and he consequently stopped my 
free admission to the Strand Theatre. Forthwith did 
I come out with a stinging thirty lines of invective, 
headed " the egregious old Cock Salmon again." The 
cholera was rife at the time ; and the metropolitan 
churchyards were being successively closed by the 
order of the then Board of Health. Promptly did I 
insert in Chat another paragraph, headed with the 
Royal Arms, in which it was set forth that the Metro- 
politan Board of Health had ordered for sanitary rea- 
sons the immediate closure of the Strand Theatre, and 
the removal of all cock salmon from the precincts 
thereof. 

vanity of youth untoward, ever spleeny, ever 
froward ! Mr. William Farren the Elder would have 
been altogether justified in bringing an action against 
me, or having me up to Bow Street for libel ; but in- 
stead of taking such hostile proceedings, he sent his 
acting manager with a friendly message to me at the 
Chat office; and my free admittance to the Strand 
Theatre was renewed. I hastened to return the com- 
pliment by writing a neat little article, in which I 
pointed out that Mr. William Farren the Elder far sur- 
passed Dowton, and was the equal of Potier and 
Brunet. 

1 have already hinted that Mr. Frederick Marriott, 
the proprietor of Chat, was not troubled with a ple- 
thora of capital. He had been, however, once upon a 
time a somewhat wealthy man as a well-known paper 
maker ; but in middle age he made signs of a propen- 
sity that led him to launch into newspaper speculation, 
the results of which were generally disastrous. He 
had had something to do with the Illustrated News in 



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EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING IQS 

its early days. He had had something to do with the 
Morning Chronicle; and about 1842 or '43 he had 
founded a truly original little weekly periodical with 
the lugubrious title of The Death Warrant. The office 
of this ominous periodical was in the Strand ; and the 
window blinds were of black wire gauze, plentifully 
adorned with Death's heads and cross-bones. The 
paper itself had a broad black border, and images of 
mortality were plentifully scattered through its col- 
umns ; the letterpress being chiefly devoted to narra- 
tives of bygone murders, and descriptions of peculiarly 
atrocious tortures and punishments. The Death tVar^ 
rant was not a success ; and after a few weeks the ver- 
satile Mr. Marriott changed the title of his paper into 
The Guide to Life. This certainly more cheerful pub- 
lication likewise failed to obtain a remunerative circu- 
lation, and Mr. Marriott had to seek for other channels 
favourable to the exercise of his undeniable facility 
of invention and his unconquerable energy. Among 
other ventures he started a large illustrated journal 
called The Railway Bell; and by agreement with his 
opposite neighbour in the Strand, he had an immense 
canvas placard stretching right across the street bear- 
ing the device of an immense bell, and the words " The 
Railway Bell is now ringing ; " but the bell, loudly as 
it was pealed, failed to ring pieces of gold and pieces 
of silver into Mr. Marriott's till ; and when he founded 
Chat I am afraid that financially speaking he was very 
nearly on his last legs. At all events, when I had been 
his editor for about six months, I found that there was 
a considerable difficulty in obtaining my weekly 
salary : the proceeds of the circulation and advertise- 
ments being removed en bloc to the proprietor's resi- 
dence in Paddington; and at length Mr. Marriott went 
away for strictly business reasons to the State of Cali- 
fornia, U.S.A. 
13 



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194 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

There was a gold fever existing in London almost as 
acute as that which three years afterwards set in with 
regard to the Australian diggings ; and there was even 
a talk of gold having been discovered in Texas. " Gone 
to Texas" was an inscription which you frequently 
saw chalked up on the shutters of an empty house ; 
and I remember seeing such a graiitto chalked on the 
shop front of a clothier — 1 should say of Hebrew ex- 
traction — in Newcastle Street, Strand, nearly opposite 
the Chat office. This clothier had a very pretty black- 
eyed daughter, who accompanied him in his voyage 
across the Atlantic; and, unless I gravely err, this 
comely maiden, with the swimming eyes and the sable 
tresses was subsequently known to dramatic fame as 
Miss Ada Isaacs Menken, whose performance of Ma- 
zeppa made her for a while a Queen of the hour, and 
whose intellectual gifts gained for her the friendship 
of Alexandre Dumas the Elder, of Algernon Charles 
Swinburne, and of Charles Dickens, to the last of 
whom she dedicated a little book of poems, entitled, 
" Infelice." She was really a very clever, witty, and 
kind-hearted little woman, but with a weakness for 
marrying without having previously ascertained that 
her former husbands were defunct. I have a portrait 
of her sitting side by side with the great author of the 
"Three Musketeers." The weather was apparently 
sultry when the carte de visite was taken, for Alexandre 
Dumas is in his shirt sleeves, and to all appearance is 
perspiring copiously. 

I may also mention that about this time I made the 
acquaintance, at a little cigar shop, under the pillars, 
in Norreys Street, Regent Street, of an extremely 
handsome lady, originally the wife of a solicitor, but 
who had been known in London and Paris as a ballet- 
dancer under the name Lola Montes. When I knew 
her she had just escaped from Munich, where she had 



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EARLY DAYS OF QUILL-DRIVING I9S 

been too notorious as a Countess of Lannsfeld. She 
had obtained, for a time, complete mastery over old 
King Ludwig of Bavaria, and something like a revolu- 
tion had been necessary to induce her to quit the Ba- 
varian capital. Some time after her return to Eng- 
land she married a gentleman, who was a son of a 
proctor in Doctors' Commons, but some legal diffi- 
culties arose in connection with her having another 
spouse alive, who had been a lieutenant in the Indian 
Army. After these difficulties had been settled, Lola 
Montes Lannsfeld faded away, so far as England was 
concerned, into the infinities ; but, many years after- 
wards, I heard of her at San Francisco, as having led 
a somewhat adventurous life in the Golden City. Ul- 
timately she went North, and fell upon evil days ; but 
she gained the Christian sympathy of a kind American 
lady, who succoured her in her utmost need ; and she 
made, I believe, a most edifying end of a stormy ca^ 
reer. During my brief acquaintance with her she 
proposed that I should write her Life, starting with 
the assumption that she was a daughter of the famous 
Spanish matador Montes. It was a hallucination 
which, curiously enough, was afterwards, to a certain 
extent, shared by Ada Isaacs Menken, who had the 
idea that her real name was Dolores, and that her 
father had been distinguished in the Iberian bull-ring. 
The legal difficulties, however, connected with her 
marriage to the son of the proctor, prevented the 
scheme of my writing her biography being carried 
out. 

I must relate as shortly as I can another incident 
connected with a projected biography of another very 
noted personage. In 1849, ^ young friend of mine, an 
artist, had a sister, who was a dancer of some stand- 
ing, and between whom and Duke Charles of Bruns- 
wick there existed rather intimate relations. The 



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196 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

banished Duke lived in a large house in the New 
Road, which mansion had formerly been the property 
of the senior partner in a well-known blacking manu- 
factory ; and to this house my youthful friend, the ar- 
tist, was frequently permitted to repair to visit his sis- 
ten He told me one day that the Duke was writing 
his Life, and that he wanted some one to illustrate it. 
I had resumed, after a considerable surcease, t-he prac- 
tice of etching ; and I gladly accepted the ducal com- 
mission to execute a given number of plates, at the 
rate of ;fio each. A portion of the manuscript 
was sent to me, and I etched, first, an elaborate view 
of the ducal palace at Brunswick, and next, the scene 
of a riot in the theatre called by a somewhat unseemly ' 
ballet which the Duke had insisted should be given . 
there. I was half through the third plate, which rep- 
resented a tumultuous mob setting fire to the Schloss, 
when Duke Charles's friend, Louis Napoleon Bona^ 
parte, being firmly installed as President of the French 
Republic, it occurred to his Serene Highness to visit, 
by means of a balloon, the fair land of France. The 
Prince President was rather ashamed of his quondam 
friend, and, throughout the duration of the Second 
Empire, persistently snubbed him. Still I have been 
positively assured by my friend the artist, that but for 
the considerable pecuniary assistance rendered by the 
amazingly wealthy Duke to the Prince, Louis Napo- 
leon would never have been able to defray the ex- 
penses of his election to the Presidency. 



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CHAPTER XVIII 

JOURNALISTS OF THE PAST 

It was during my connection with Chat that I first 
made the acquaintance of Mr. Thomas Lyttleton Holt, 
one of the most curious types — if, indeed, he was not a 
unique one — of the journalism of the past. The publi* 
cations daily, weekly, and monthly founded and edited 
by Holt could be reckoned by the score; although 
their existence rarely extended beyond a few months, 
and was in many cases limited to a few weeks. I may 
be pardoned for a seeming paradox, which I hope is 
susceptible of explanation, when I say that Thomas 
Lyttleton Holt was a Bohemian, and yet, to a very 
great extent, the very reverse of a man with Bohemian 
tendencies. In the first place, he had married early a 
lady of good family, and of considerable personal 
charm, he was a devoted husband, and the most affec- 
tionate of fathers ; and he was neither a gambler, nor 
a profligate, nor a spendthrift, and always did his best 
to pay his way ; whereas the literary Bohemian of the 
period was, as a rule, a very undesirable person from 
the ethical point of view. Holt came of a very good 
family, and could, I believe, justify his claim to de- 
scent from the famous Chief Justice by the same sur- 
name. He had been educated at St. Paul's School, 
and at Cambridge, at which university, however, I do 
not think that he ever graduated. His father, I be- 
lieve, was a clergyman, if not a Doctor of Divinity, 
and was the proprietor of a respectable weekly news- 
paper, known as Old Bell's Messenger. 



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198 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

In what manner, then, you may ask, did Mr. 
Thomas Lyttleton Holt make outward and visiple 
sign of his Bohemianism ? His citizenship of Prague 
was due to the circumstance that he had an invete/ate 
propensity for starting newspapers, magazines, and 
weekly periodicals, usually without the requisite cap- 
ital for carrying out those publications to a succelsful 
issue. As a journalist, he wrote fairly well, but ^f he 
had ever been a working newspaper man, content to 
earn his livelihood as a critic, or a reviewer, or a 
writer of leading articles, or even as a writer of de- 
scriptive paragraphs, his chances of regular employ- 
ment would, I fear, have been sadly imperilled by the 
execrable calligraphy with which he was afflicted. I 
am not aware that he had any poetry in his soul ; and 
I never heard that he had written any novels or tales, 
long or short. He may have taken, now and again, a 
trip to Paris, but I doubt that he had ever travelled 
five hundred miles away from Fleet Street. He was 
an excellent classical scholar, a good mathematician, 
and he had a copious, if not a profound, acquaintance 
with English literature, history, and theology. When 
i knew him, in 1848, he was, I should say, about forty 
years of age, and could just remember the Battle of 
Waterloo. He was a rare humorist, and, to some ex- 
tent, a wit; very shrewd and discriminative as an 
editor ; but his forte lay in starting more and more 
magazines and periodicals. 

Soon after he left the university, he had been a part- 
ner in divers unlucky journalistic enterprises of Gil- 
bert Abbot k Beckett, and he had also had more or 
less intimate business relations with Henry Mayhew. 
Then he went into affairs on his own account as a cre- 
ator of periodicals. Of how many of these publica- 
tions of his he saw the birth and death, during my 
knowledge, I am utterly unable to say ; but I stumbled 



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JOURNALISTS OF THE PAST I99 

recently on several volumes of a weekly journal, of 
which he was proprietor and editor, called Holfs 
Magazine^ which was published some time in the 'thir- 
ties. Personally, he was a tall, handsome man, re- 
markable for his flowing hirsute adornments, at a 
period when Mr. Muntz, one of the Members for Bir- 
mingham, and Colonel Sibthorp, one of the representa- 
tives for Lincoln in Parliament, were nearly the only 
Englishmen of note, not being military men, who wore 
either beards or moustaches. 

In the majority of instances Fate frowned very de- 
spitefully on Holt's journalistic ventures ; but now and 
again there was a bright rift in the clouds which com- 
mercially came over him, and in the year of the rail- 
way mania. 1845, of which I have already spoken in, I 
hope, not unnecessary detail, he was favoured during 
some months with an uninterrupted blaze of golden 
sunshine. He applied for some shares in one of the 
innumerable railway companies which were projected, 
and, in accordance with the loose practice then com- 
mon, sold, without having paid a halfpenny of deposit, 
his letter of allotment at a handsome premium. Forth- 
with he started a daily newspaper, called the Iron 
TiV^f^j,- which at once became a prodigious financial 
success. Its columns, day after day for many weeks, 
were inundated with advertisements of newly projected 
lines, the promoters of which rarely paid for their ad- 
vertisements in cash, but were always ready to hand 
over fully paid-up shares in exchange for the public 
announcements of their schemes. 

These shares, in the then Bedlamite condition of 
the railway stock-market, could immediately be real- 
ised; and Holt did realise them to the extent of 
perhaps ;^20,ooo. Had he realised them all, he might, 
at the beginning of November, 1845, have been the 
possessor of perhaps ;^ 150,000; but he held his hand 



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200 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

in the hope that his securities would rise higher 
and higher in value. While the mania lasted, how- 
ever, he and his family lived in the most gorgeous 
of clover; or rather, of a field teeming with golden 
grain ; he spurned the rail — that rail which was 
bringing so much auriferous grist to his mill-^ 
and travelled in a barouche, drawn by four horses. 
The electric telegraph was not very widely used 
in those days; but it was utilised by the editor 
and proprietor of the Iron Times to communicate his 
expensive wishes to the proprietors of the hotels 
on his route. I remember one of his despatches, ad- 
dressed to " The Hen and Chickens," Birmingham : 
"Arrive at midnight. Broiled fowl and mushrooms 
for eight. Sneed's claret. Moet and Chandon mag- 
nums. Brandy-and-water in relays. A piano. — Holt, 
Iron Times^ 

With all his eccentricities, T. Lyttleton Holt was a 
perfectly truthful man ; and I see no reason to ques- 
tion the accuracy of a story which he once told me, at 
having received from the sales of some shares a thou- 
sand pounds sterling, which he took care to draw in 
gold. He repaired to an hotel at the West End, 
emptied the bags of sovereigns into the bed, and went 
to sleep, literally in the sands of Pactolus. There was 
nothing so very much out of the way in this revelling 
in a golden bath. I have related how Paganini the 
violinist washed his hands, so to speak, in sovereigns ; 
and I have heard that when Fr6d6ric Souli6, the French 
novelist, received from his publisher ten thousand 
francs, in louis d'or, for the first volume of the " Mys- 
tferes du Diable," he poured the glittering treasure into 
a foot-bath and enjoyed that exceptional bain de pieds, 
for at least half an hour, smoking meanwhile the big- 
gest of Havanas. 

But, alas! in poor Holt's case, a crash came in the 



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JOURNALISTS OF THE PAST 20I 

railway share market. The pitiless figures of Mr. 
Spackman, the accountant, were published, as I have 
said elsewhere, in The Times. It was shown that there 
was scarcely enough money in all England to build 
the projected railways ; and a financial collapse, sur- 
passing the crisis of 1825, and almost equalling the 
horrible ruin and disaster caused by the bursting of 
the South Sea Bubble, came down like a thunder- 
cloud on Capel Court. Thomas Lyttleton Holt awoke 
one morning, like many other speculators of the pe- 
riod, to find himself a ruined man : the proprietor, it is 
true, of a vast number of shares, nominally worth ever 
so many thousand pounds, but which, as soon as Mr. 
Spackman's statistics were published, represented only 
so much waste-paper. 

He also remained the proprietor of the Iron TimeSy 
the goodwill of which had come not to be worth much 
more than twopence-halfpenny; and the undaunted 
Thomas Lyttleton Holt was left, like Marius among 
the ruins of Carthage ; the debris comprising innumer- 
able prospectuses, letters of allotment, and scrip, cer- 
tificates, burst boilers, skeleton carriages, wrecked 
luggage- vans, broken buffers, and dim streaks of rust 
where there had once been promises of double lines of 
rails. When I first met Holt he was the editor of 
Chaty but he gracefully resigned that post to me, 
since he was ambitious to start another publication of 
his own. He was always starting new publications; 
and the wonder of it was that he was rarely unsuc- 
cessful in finding printers and paper makers confiding 
enough to help him in running the first few numbers 
of his new enterprise. " These good people," he was 
accustomed to say, " have, I suppose, lost a good many 
thousands by me. Still, I think that I may say, with 
modest self-consciousness, that Thomas Lyttleton Holt 
has been the direct means of putting more money into 



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202 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the pockets of the compositors of London than any 
other journalist of the period." 

Holt may possibly turn up again from time to time 
in the course of these Memoirs; but ere I temporarily 
dismiss him, I may mention that through him I be- 
came acquainted with a man of letters whom I looked 
upon, I should say, with justice, as a highly curious 
relic of the sporting days of the Regency. This was 
Pierce Egan the Elder, the author of " Life in Lon- 
don," of " The Life of an Actor," of " Boxiana," the 
editor of " John Bee's Slang Dictionary," and of a 
host of pugilistic and horsey books and periodicals, 
once amazingly popular, but the majority of which 
have long been completely forgotten. I never had any 
appreciable success as the proprietor of any periodical 
whatsoever, but I began that line of business very 
early, and in 1849 I ^^s associated with Holt in the 
conduct of some little periodical, the name and the 
purport of which I am at present wholly oblivious. I 
know, however, that it was illustrated, and that the il- 
lustrations were from my own pencil. Atrociously 
bad those drawings must have been, seeing that we 
could scarcely afford to pay so much as a living wage 
to the engravers who reproduced my designs on wood, 
and most of the drawings were rather hewn, or dug 
out of the block, than engraved. 

We had agreed that Pierce Egan should write a 
column of sporting matter for us ; and he made an ap- 
pointment to meet us in the coflFee-room of a shady 
old-fashioned tavern somewhere in Windmill Street, 
Haymarket. Pierce had long since fallen into the 
sere and yellow leaf, and was well-stricken in the vale 
ot years ; in fact, he was seventy-seven when I saw 
him, and the year of my meeting with him was the 
last in his life. A little wearish old man, somewhat 
melancholy by nature, averse to company in his latter 



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JOURNALISTS OF THE PAST 203 

days, and much given to solitariness. Such a one was 
Democritus, as Burton, in "The Anatomy of Melan- 
choly," described the philosopher of Abdera, from the 
word-picture left by Hippocrates. Pierce Egan, as I 
remember him, had a rather quavering voice, and a 
shrinking, shuffling manner, as though the poor old 
gentleman had found the burden of his great life a 
misery to him, and was yearning to shake it ofiF. I had 
drunk deep of his books from my earliest boyhood. I 
had copied, in pen-and-ink, scores of the etchings made 
by George and Robert Cruikshank for the illustration 
of " Life in London," and I could not help asking my- 
self, mentally, and with mournful dismay, whether this 
withered patriarch would be the renowned Pierce 
Egan, whose proficiency in slang had been praised in 
BlackwoocTs Magazine^ who had been the life and soul 
of several sporting " free-and-easies," and a referee at 
a hundred prize fights. 

Still, you will remember that which Burton says of 
the occasional relaxation of Democritus: — "Howso- 
ever it was, there he lived at last in a garden in the 
suburbs, wholly betaking himself to his studies and a 
private life, saving that sometimes he would walk 
down to the haven, and laugh heartily at such variety 
of ridiculous objects which there he saw." So it was 
with Pierce Egan the Elder. I forget whether he 
smoked ; but Holt and I soon managed to wreathe his 
old head with garlands of cerulean vapour, not from 
cigars, if you please, but from good honest " yards of 
clay," of the Broseley pattern ; and then, after a few 
glasses of rum punch, the cockles of Pierce's heart 
were warmed ; the old man became eloquent ; he be- 
gan to talk of Tom Spring and Tom Belcher, and Bob 
Gregson and other famous gladiators of the bygone ; 
he told us of Jack Mitton and of Gully, the pugilist, 
who retired from the prize ring to become eventually 



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204 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

a Member of Parliament. He descanted on the cock- 
fighting, the bulLbaiting, the badger-drawing, the rat- 
ting, and the dog-and-duck fighting he had seen in the 
brave days of old ; he had known Shaw the Life- 
guardsman, he had played billiards with Jack Thur- 
tell ; he was the abstract and chronicle of the manners 
of an age which had vanished, and which, it is most 
devoutly to be hoped, will never repeat itself on this 
sublunary sphere again. It was not an intellectual 
evening, and from the point of view of the higher 
morality, not a very edifying one; still, altogether, 
the night was one of the most entertaining that I ever 
passed. Pierce Egan the Younger I afterwards knew 
very well ; he was a copious writer of fiction in the 
London Journal: his masterpiece being a romance en- 
titled " The Poor Girl," and he died a prosperous gen- 
tleman. 

It is perhaps almost unnecessary to state that in 
these, the days of my earliest editorship, when I was 
eking out my small journalistic income by odd guineas 
and half-guineas — yea, and sometimes the humble, but 
welcome, five shillings — by making drawings on wood 
or in water-colours, I was very, very poor. Was it 
miserable poverty ? Well ; it was poverty ; and the 
vast majority of people hold that poverty and misery 
are the same thing. I doubt that conclusion gravely, 
and I claim to be somewhat of an expert in the matter, 
seeing that between the ages of seventeen and twenty- 
three I experienced the very direst indigence ; and my 
struggles for a livelihood until I was thirty were violent 
and bitter. But, on the other hand, for the last forty 
years I have had a good house over my head, and 
have earned by the sweat of my brow, but with great 
inward satisfaction, a handsome income. 

Understand me. I do not call him poor who has 
enough of anything, be it truffles and chambertin, or 



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JOURNALISTS OF THE PAST 20$ 

tripe and onions, or bread and cheese. " We can be 
good and happy wifhout socks," the erratic philoso- 
pher, " Billy Barlow," was made to say : but Barlow 
had never felt the want of socks. Had he worn them 
they might have impeded the freedom of his gait and 
the independence of his port. Barlow was a nomad, a 
quagga kind of man, restless, incult, but according to 
his lights and his wants, happy. Because pretty little 
Pocahontas had never known the luxury of a chemise, 
she was not less princess of Virginia. To be very 
poor is, I grant, sometimes to be very miserable, and 
to be extremely miserable for a time is, I hold, a most 
beneficial mental and bodily state for any man to be in. 
To have lacked bread and raiment, and a bed now and 
then in the course of your career, if you have a man's 
heart in you, and not that of a beast, is to make you, 
if you attain prosperity, tolerant and charitable, and 
possibly humble, modest, and grateful. For all your 
fine horses and carriages, and money in the Funds, 
you may be a beggar again some day. 

The American millionaires have a proverb that there 
is only one generation between shirt-sleeves and shirt- 
sleeves. This should be your incentive to modesty. 
Spurn not that mendicant ; set him not down sternly 
as a vagrant or an impostor ; you were yourself quite 
innocent of fraud when you were needy and sought 
relief. There should be your incentive to charity. Be 
not angry with the poor devil who worries you with 
begging letters. You really were expecting a remit- 
tance when you wrote to Dives, imploring the favour 
of that small loan ; you did intend to repay him with 
heartfelt thanks ; you had pawned your coat ; you had 
not tasted food for two days, while you waited, sick at 
heart, at the foot of his staircase for an answer. Now, 
how is a man fully to understand poverty, and to ap- 
preciate want and to pity necessity, if he have not been 



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206 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

himself one of the bisognosi, if he have not himself gone 
through the slow grinding mill of desperate penury ? 

Scarcely ever have tffere been two more charitable 
men than Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Johnson ; and 
as seldom have there been, in their earlier days, two 
needier ones. 'Twas the remembrance of the time 
when he lived among the beggars in Axe Lane, when 
he pledged the suit of clothes which the publisher had 
obtained for him on credit ; when he left my Lord 
Bishop, who was so kind as to pay him a visit in Green 
Arbour Court, to lend the Irish woman oelow a slop- 
basin full of coals, that opened Oliver's hand when he 
came to wear silk stockings and a coat of Tyrian blue ; 
that moved him to enrol that band of rugged pension- 
ers who made "a more dignified show about his doors 
when he lived in the Temple than all the Beefeaters 
and all the gentlemen-pensioners could make at the 
obsequies of a king. It was the mindfulness of hunger 
and nakedness and cold, of nights passed with Savage, 
wandering up and down the cruel streets, or crouch- 
ing upon pavements ; it was the recollection of the 
sponging house, and the twopenny ordinary — it was 
the memory of the day when the publisher of the Gen- 
tlematCs Magazine asked him to dinner, but he was fain 
to devour his victuals behind a screen, because, in his 
ragged horseman's coat, he was not thought fit to sit 
at meat with Mr. Cave's genteel company — that stirred 
the grand heart of Johnson to the infinite tenderness 
and compassion ; that bade him open his house and 
purse to the fractious blind woman and the silly, troub- 
lesome apothecary ; that prompted him to take upon 
his strong shoulders the fainting wanton whom he 
found perishing on the pavement in the night, and 
give her food and shelter in his home. 



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CHAPTER XIX 

POVERTY 

Did you ever see Murillo's picture of " San Juan de 
Dios ? " If you have not an engraving, a few words 
of description may serve your turn. The painting is 
at Seville, in the Church of La Caridad — the libertine 
Don Juan's own church. The saint has found a beg- 
gar perishing in the gutter as Johnson found the wan- 
ton. Forthwith he hoists Lazarus on his back. But 
the holy man is old and feeble, and he stumbles and 
staggers,, and is like to fall beneath the load ; when an 
Angel comes out of the darkness of the night — an 
Angel with shining face and wings — and cheers him 
and props his arm and guides his footsteps in with his 
charge to the 'spital. When I first looked on this pict- 
ure I thought at once of Dr. Johnson tottering along 
Fleet Street with the poor worn-out derelict of wom- 
anhood on his back. 

Yes ; poverty was anguish, and of the bitterest. It 
was vastly fine for B^ranger to sing, " Dans un grenier 
quon est Hen h vingt ans'' But how is it when at 
twenty years even the garret is not attainable ; or hav- 
ing one, you are locked out by the landlady for not 
paying the rent? B6ranger talks of his Lisette; of 
his credit at Madame Gr6goire's cabaret ; of his pawn- 
ing his watch to defray the cost of a carouse. How 
is it when you have no Lisette, no wine-shop keeper to 
trust you, no watch to pawn ? B^ranger had a trade, 
he was a compositor; and an industrious working man 
need never starve. In the days of which I speak I 



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208 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



could do nothing which could secure me a regular 
livelihood. I could not draw, nor engrave, nor paint, 
nor write well enough — although 1 dabbled in all 
those crafts — to be received as a skilful journeyman in 
any workshop. It was not until I was twenty-three that 
I scraped together enough money to deliberately ap- 
prentice myself to an engraver on steel and copper, in 
order that if the worst came to the worst, I might be 
able to earn forty or fifty shillings a week by engrav- 
ing visiting-cards or bill-heads for tradesmen. 

I know that I have often turned half sick when I 
went into a tavern for half-a-pint of porter, to see a 
swaggering customer throw down a sovereign and rat- 
tle in his hand the shining change which the barmaid 
handed him. I had early fallen a slave to tobacco— 
the great consoler, the great afflicter, the merciless 
usurer, who exacts higher interest every time he re- 
news the bill and at last demands his capital and sells 
you up and leaves you bankrupt in nerve and brain. 
I know that when I have not had the means of pur- 
chasing a solitary "screw" of bird's-eye, and have 
probed all my short pipes in the fruitless hope of find- 
ing in some forgotten bowl a remnant of " mundun- 
gus," I have taken a wretched pleasure in walking in 
the street behind a gentleman who was smoking a 
good cigar ; and the aroma of his Havana wafted me 
into a kind of sensuous ecstasy, which was half grati- 
fication and half despair. 

I know that I have sauntered about Clubland, have 
wandered up and down Pall Mall and Waterloo Place 
and St. James's Street, gazing on summer afternoons 
and evenings through the open windows of the great 
gas-lit palaces, and wondering whether the stout, grey- 
headed gentlemen whom I saw enthroned before the 
snowy-white damask, plying their knives and forks, or 
sipping their wine or lounging behind newspapers, 



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POVERTY 209 



belonged to a superior race of mortals — whether they 
walked and talked like other folks. There is a por- 
trait of a general officer in full uniform visible from 
the street in one of the saloons of the Senior United 
Service ; and there are some red-backed chairs which 
you can espy through the windows of the Travellers' 
which affect me strangely to this day. On the whole, 
although I have known a good many extremely poor 
men and women who were not only resigned but 
cheerful when the icy hand of poverty was pressing 
most piteously upon them, I am inclined to think that 
in the main indigence and misery are convertible 
terms. 

As regard my editorship and proprietorship of Chat^ 
my earnings as editor and contributor varied between 
eighteen shillings and twenty-two shillings a week. 
When, by agreement with Mr. Marriott's legal repre- 
sentatives in London, I became part proprietor of the 
little journal, I was worse off than when I was editor. 
In the last case I received a salary — not much, but still 
sufficient to keep body and soul together. In the first 
case I was supposed to participate in the profits. 
There were no net profits, so we were constrained to 
appropriate the gross proceeds. Unfortunately, my 
co-proprietors were as poverty-stricken as I was, and 
on more than one occasion we were under the unpleas- 
ant necessity of fighting for the small change in the 
till. About this time also, having always had a taste 
for speculation, I was induced to add to the publishing 
business the sale of a new patent American nostrum 
called " The Shaking Quaker's Herbal Pill." I drew 
on wood a preposterous cartoon of the Shakers danc- 
ing in their Meeting House ; the Quakers in one bat- 
talion, the Quakeresses in another — facing each other 
and capering in the most animated manner. I do not 
think that my erratic pencil had ever drawn so many 
14 



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2IO LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

hideous countenances and so many grotesque attitudes 
as I portrayed on that block. Infatuated youth ! I 
ought to have made the male Shakers plump, compla- 
cent and smug, and the female ones comely and de- 
mure. Perhaps the ugliness of the portraits which I 
had drawn militated against the popularity of the pills : 
at all events they did not sell ; I am sure I do not know 
why, for I took several boxes of Shaking Quakers my- 
self, and they never did me any harm. I withdrew 
from the entire concern at last, quite disgusted with 
literature, journalism, and pills, and I did not write a 
line for the press for three whole years. 

It had not been a jovial time. It had rarely been 
even an amusing one. During three-fourths pf it I 
was inexpressibly wretched. A prosperous book-sel- 
ler's shop now occupies the site of the office of Chat^ 
and when I am in town and pass the corner of Holy- 
well Street, I regard it not with fond remembrance, 
not with a soft and mellowed interest, but with a kind 
of cold shuddering aversion as a place where I suffered 
long and bitterly. The lessons which I learned there 
will not, I trust, be forgotten ; and it is even possible 
that I learnt there many lessons of self-discipline and 
of resignation to sorrow and disappointment, which 
have been useful to me in after-life ; but any solace 
which I may feel from looking back on scenes of mis- 
ery, arises not from the knowledge that they were 
tempered by the joyousness and carelessness of youth, 
but by the consciousness that I am better off now, and 
by the hope that I shall not get into such a scrape 
again. 

My share in the copyright and goodwill of Chat 
was purchased by my co-proprietors for the sum of 
jf lo, which, at the period, seemed to me a mint of 
money. I must have been also favoured by another 
windfall at the time. Yes; I know whence it came. 



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POVERTY 211 



On my twenty-first birthday I came into possession of 
a legacy of ;f2o, bequeathed to me by my Aunt 
Sophia, who had departed this life about twelve 
years before. Thus comparatively affluent, as I felt 
myself to be, I treated myself to a long meditated 
trip to Paris, which gay city I had not set eyes upon 
for nearly ten years. Louis Philippe had been de- 
throned after three days' street-fighting in February, 
1848, and was living in dignified seclusion at Clare- 
mont. Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was Presi- 
dent of the Republic, which seemed to me to be get- 
ting on about as badly as a Republic under any politi- 
cal or social circumstances could. The President was 
over head and ears in debt, and was the object of at 
least twenty intrigues, plots, and conspiracies on the 
part of as many political factions. The Trees of Lib- 
erty which had been planted with such profusion on 
the boulevards and in other public places in the capi- 
tal after February were rapidly disappearing ; they 
were, probably, nocturnally uprooted by the police. 
The public buildings still bore on their facades the 
proud proclamation " Liberty, Egalit6, Fraternit6 ! ** 
but in general society this political trinity was usually 
contemptuously alluded to as les trots blagues. 

In a revue or topical extravaganza at the Vaudeville 
Theatre, one of the lady characters on reference being 
incidentally made to February, 1848, archly replied, 
''Cdtait alors que la France avait la rougeoW — the 
measles — and the mot was received with shouts of ap- 
plause by nine- tenths of the audience. The great 
majority of the people of Paris seemed to be heartily 
sick of the Republic and of all that was hers. The 
horrible slaughter which had taken place in the 
streets in the insurrection of June, 1848, had terrified 
and disgusted the frivolous, pleasure-loving Parisians. 
Nobody knew what was to come next; and all eyes 



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212 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



were turned half in hope and half in fear to the enig- 
matical gentleman at the Elys6e. Paris seemed to 
me dishevelled, shabby, and unkempt. The old hotels 
had degenerated ; the splendid caravansaries of the 
Imperial regime were scarcely as yet dreamed of. 
There was a lack of good new pieces at the theatres ; 
and on the whole, Paris seemed to me to be vastly dif- 
ferent from, and as vastly inferior in the way of vivac- 
ity and gaiety to the Lutetia which I had known and 
loved as a schoolboy. 

I only stayed a few days in the French capital, and, 
having spent nearly all the balance of my wealth by 
taking a ticket in a lottery, in which the chief prize 
was a huge nugget of Australian gold, and in which, 
of course, I drew a blank, I returned to London to re- 
sume that old, old enterprise of mine of tracking the 
wily five-pound note — ^and the equally cautious sover- 
eign — to its lair. This time I thought that I would try 
art. I could draw passably well on stone; and in 1850 
I produced my first "work" — I mean, a little book 
filled with illustrations from my own pencil. It was 
a kind of comic guide-book for Continental tourists, 
and was called " Hail, Rain, Steam, and Speed," a title 
evidently borrowed from that of Turner's extraordi- 
nary picture of a train on the Great Western Railway 
rushing along a viaduct in the midst of a blinding 
storm of rain. The book was published by the firm of 
Ackermann, in the Strand : a house to which during 
several years I was indebted for much remunerative 
employment. Of course I was very proud of having 
brought forth this tiny morsel of a volume, the price 
of which was either half-a-crown or a shilling, and I 
hastened to send a copy to my mother, who was on a 
visit to the Marchioness of Abercorn, at Baron's Court, 
Ireland. 

It was the practice of my parent to make an annual 



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POVERTY 213 



autumnal tour, half friendly and half professional, 
staying at the country houses of great ladies who had 
been her pupils of old, and whose daughters were 
growing up. Among these country seats I remember 
in particular that of the Marchioness, afterwards 
Duchess, of Abercorn, and vice-queen of Ireland, and 
the residences of the Marchioness of Donegal and of 
Lady Garvagh ; and it was with pride and gratitude 
that I learned from my mother that my little " Hail. 
Rain, Steam, and Speed *' had been laid on the draw- 
ing-room table at Baron's Court, and had been hon- 
oured by the approval of the noble family and guests 
there. From that little circumstance arose the most 
pleasant of associations during a long and varied 
career with the noble house of Hamilton, whose mem- 
bers have never ceased to claim a kindly, unvested in- 
terest in the well-being of G. A. S. Both as Marquis 
and Marchioness of Hamilton, and as Duke and Duch- 
ess of Abercorn, the present heads of the house have 
always been my friends, and the amicable feelings they 
have shown to me have been shared by many others 
of their family. 



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CHAPTER XX 

"NO POPERY" AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION 

Lord John Russell's famous " Durham Letter/* 
written by the then First Minister of the Crown to 
the Bishop of Durham — in which epistle the Premier 
severely censured not only the recent Papal aggression, 
imputed to Cardinal Wiseman in having published 
a pastoral letter in which all England was parcelled 
out into Romish dioceses, but also the proceedings of 
the Tractarian clergy of the Church of England — 
brought me another commission from the house of 
Ackermann. For them I engraved on stone a kind of 
panorama, folding into book form, with the then at- 
tractive title, " No Popery ; " and the illustrations were 
printed in red and black, the first hue having an obvi- 
ous reference to the Scarlet Lady of Babylon, and the 
next symbolising the dark machinations of the Ritual- 
ists, then styled Puseyites. " No Popery " had an 
immense sale, but I do not think that I made more 
than ;^2o by it. The success, however, of the lit- 
tle pictorial tract brought to the front a large num- 
ber of humorous artists, among them being the well- 
known Alfred Forester, whose graphic pseudonym 
was " Alfred Crowquill." He executed about a dozen 
cartoons in water-colours, which I copied in chalk on 
stone. 

They were awfully ominous pictures, threatening 
Protestant England with the most fearful disasters if 



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'NO POPERY" AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION 21$ 



the Pope, the Cardinal, and the insidious Puseyites 
were allowed to have their wicked way. Guy Fawkes, 
Ignatius Loyola, Torquemada, and all the familiars of 
the Holy Inquisition figured in these red-hot works of 
art; and the foreground was heaped high with stakes, 
scourges, thumbscrews, fetters, racks, and other en- 
gines of Papal cruelty. For a considerable number of 
weeks London and the provinces went stark, staring 
mad over ** Papal Aggression ; ** and the outcome of 
the "aggression" was the passing, in the following 
year, of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, prohibiting, un- 
der a penalty of ;f lOO, the constitution of Romanist 
bishops of pretended provinces. The Act, which 
was a sufficiently idiotic one, was never put in force ; 
and twenty years afterwards it was repealed amidst 
the complete indifference of the public at large. I 
had the honour to know Cardinal Wiseman, who 
was a cheery, benignant old gentleman, with a very 
hearty appetite ; and I have lived to see his Eminence 
Cardinal Vaughan make a radiant appearance at grand 
social functions in England in a flowing mantle of rose 
crimson damask. 

But a more important commission than the Acker- 
mann's was now given me. The approaching Great 
Exhibition of 185 1 was filling the minds of my own 
countrymen, and, indeed, of most civilised nations to 
boot, with pleasurable anticipation and excited hope. 
Paxton's design for a colossal conservatory in Hyde 
Park had been accepted by the Commissioners for the 
World's Fair. The illustrated papers abounded with 
pictures of what the Exhibition was to be like ; and I 
thought that I might as well take time by the forelock 
by publishing a series of comic prophecies of the ob- 
jects and the people which would most probably be 
exhibited at the great show. The whole work was 
etched on four large lithographic stones, and bore the 



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2l6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

rather imbecile title : " The Great Exhibition wot is 
to be, and how it's all going to be done," by " Vates 
Secundus." 

" Values," by the way, whom I knew very well in the 
flesh, had nothing to do with classical antiquity ; it 
was a pseudonym of the gentleman who, during many 
years, was a prophet of that well-known sporting news- 
paper BeWs Life in London, My book comprised many 
hundreds of farcical figures, all with very large heads 
and very diminutive bodies. A band of music was led 
by M. JuUien, the well-known Promenade Concert con- 
ductor, who was followed by the choir of St Paul's 
and the chorus of Her Majesty's Theatre. The French 
exhibits included a huge ornamental clock wheeled on 
a truck by Prince Louis Napoleon ; and on the dials 
the hours were marked by Republicanism, Socialism, 
Bonapartism, Legitimatism, St. Simonianism, Four- 
rierism, and Orleanism. The hour-hand pointed to 
Orleanism, the minute-hand to Bonapartism : a double- 
barrelled prophecy which not many months afterwards 
was partially verified. Then M. Adolphe Thiers ex- 
hibited himself, bearing on his head the twenty vol- 
umes of his " History of the Consulate and the Em- 
pire." Guizot posed as an ancient stoic philosopher ; 
and Alexandre Dumas the elder dragged his volumi- 
nous works on a barrow ; while Victor Hugo followed 
with a model of the Cathedral of N6tre Dame de Paris 
on a salver. Then came a little Paris gamin carrying, 
on a pole surmounted by a weathercock, a harlequin 
suit of clothes, as one most appropriate for French 
politicians to wear. Soyer, the cook, brandished a 
stew-pan in one hand and his "magic stove" in the 
other ; while French tragedy was illustrated by Made- 
moiselle Rachel as Pktdre ; and the French exhibits 
wound up with a mob of dancing-masters, pioupious. 
Red Republicans, d^bardeurs, and gendarmes. In the 



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'*NO POPERY" AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION 21/ 

German section, together with pipes, sausages, sauer- 
kraut, and Kirschwasser^ there was the presentment of 
the Lord High Admiral of the German fleet and the 
fleet itself; the admiral wore top boots, and the fleet 
was a little cock-boat floating in a washing-tub. Little 
did I dream in my raw youth that the German navy 
would in my old age become a gigantic and powerful 
machine of war. Yet I should say that in 1850 some 
millions of my fellow-countrymen entertained opinions 
corresponding with my own touching the prospects of 
a German navy. A happier hit I managed to make in 
the Russian section, in which I drew the Emperor 
Nicholas as a huge bear, and remarked in the text that 
Bruin would be divided by a strong barrier from the 
Ottoman section of the Exhibition, as considerable 
danger would probably result to the Turkey from 
close proximity to the Bear. 

Italian macaroni and Italian irons ; Spanish Figaros 
and cachucha dancers ; Americans revelling in sherry- 
cobblers, reposing in rocking-chairs, thrashing their 
slaves, and brandishing six-chambered pistols ; Turks, 
Jews, and African savages ; Scotch bagpipers and Irish 
bhoys and colleens ; the great Duke of Wellington and 
Sir Charles Napier on horseback ; the Widow M'Cor- 
mack with a picture of her cabbage-garden ; Joseph 
Hume with the model of a save-all ; Disraeli with 
eight hats superposed one on the other, as a specimen 
of a Hebrew Caucasian " gent." ; Lord Brougham as 
Janus ; and five hundred other more or less absurd 
monstrosities made up this farrago of juvenile imper- 
tinence — an impertinence, however, to which I de- 
voted many weeks of the hardest of labour — my studio 
being a well-lighted room on the premises of Messrs. 
Day and Haghe, the lithographers, of Gate Street, 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, who printed my " Great Exhibi- 
tion " for Messrs. Ackermann. 



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2l8 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



I had scarcely finished this, to me, important work, 
for which I received the sumptuous remuneration of 
jf lOO, when I was the victim — yes, all things con- 
sidered, the victim of another windfall. That Aunt 
Sophy who had left me ;£'20 to be paid on my at- 
taining my majority, had bequeathed the life-interest 
in the rest of her property to her sister, my Aunt 
Eliza, whom I have already spoken of as Mrs. Crel- 
lin; at her death in 1850 the property was divisible 
among us four nephews and nieces ; but my dearest 
sister Augusta had died of consumption early in 
1849, ^^d there were only three nephews left, my 
brother Frederick, my brother Albert, and myself to 
share in the modest heritage. Frederick was estab- 
lished as a professor of music at Southampton, and 
had already given three hostages to Fortune. Albert, 
after a chequered maritime career between the ages of 
fourteen and twenty-two, was serving in the Navy of 
the Honourable East India Company. There fell to 
each of us a few hundred pounds in cash, and a little 
house property. 

I beg to state once for all that I did not spend any 
considerable portion of my legacy in riotous living, 
but at the same time I managed in the course of three 
months to make a very complete fool of myself. Had 
I listened to the advice of Thomas Lyttleton Holt — 
always wise in counselling others, and usually injudi- 
cious in advising himself — I should, after a little pre- 
paratory grinding, have gone to the University ; since 
for a young man of my age I knew a great deal. I 
only wanted a little scholarly discipline and system. 
I might then have entered myself at one of the Inns of 
Court, and possibly, being endowed by Nature with 
what is most vulgarly but still most forcibly called the 
"gift of the gab," I might have done very well at the 
Bar. It was not to be. Most firmly do I believe in 



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"NO POPERY" AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION 219 

Fate. It was my Kismet — my destiny to wander up 
and down, and to go to and fro in the world, and to 
make use of the knowledge and the experience which 
I acquired as a writer to the press. 

For a few weeks my brother Charles and I devoted 
ourselves to enjoyment pure and simple. We dined at 
high-class restaurants, went to the Derby in a " one- 
horse shay," and to Ascot in an hansom cab ; we gave 
bachelor parties at our modest little apartments in a 
street close to Mornington Crescent, and I smoked 
sixpenny cigars instead of twopenny ones. In particu- 
lar did we delight in Saturday to Monday jaunts to 
fishing hostelries on the Upper Thames, and the back- 
waters thereof, then a delightfully sequestered and 
tranquil region. There were no house-boats, and no 
'Arrys to vex your soul ; but there were long sunny 
tranquil days devoted to fishing, and delightful even- 
ings, in the course of which veteran fresh-water an- 
glers sang songs with choruses about perch and chub, 
roach and dace, and told the most amazing fibs about 
the gigantic pike which they alleged that they had 
caught. 

It was the American humourist, Josh Billings, who 
once professed to vouch for the veracity of a story 
which he related, by saying that it had been told to 
him by an auctioneer, and that he never knew an 
auctioneer tell a lie unless he could get something by 
it. But the mendacious angler derives no profit what- 
soever from his tarradiddles, he lies because he likes 
it and his hearers like to hear him lie ; at least they 
did in those days, and when their turn comes will lie 
as vigorously as he. Perhaps they are incited to men- 
dacity by the view of the stuffed and varnished fish in 
glass cases which adorn the walls. Those reminders 
of bygone piscatorial prowess may be as irresistible a 
stimulant to their imaginations as the minstrelsy of 



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220 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

old Timotheus — not unaided by the flowing bowl — 
was to Alexander: — 

" Soothed by the sound the King grew vain ; 
Fought all his battles o'er again, 
And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain ; 
The master saw the madness rise, 
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes. 
And while he heaven and earth defied. 
Changed his hand, and checked his pride." 

I fancy that our pride was checked when the landlord 
of the " Jolly Anglers " or the " Isaac Walton's Head " 
appeared on the scene of our revels, and presented the 
reckoning. 

There was a real and ridiculous incident that, dur- 
ing this halcyon period, contributed much to check 
my youthful pride. I was too young and too obscure 
to belong to any club, but in lieu thereof I used, when 
I wished to spend a quiet evening, to repair to Simp- 
son's cigar divan in the Strand, the upper chamber of 
which was a luxuriously appointed smoking-room con- 
taining an excellent library. For the sum of one shil- 
ling you had a cup of excellent coffee, and a very good 
cigar, and you might remain in this fumoir and smoke 
and read as long as ever you liked. It was a most 
entertaining and instructive night-resort for clubless 
young men who were not always ambitious to go on 
the loose. I had changed my residence to a furnished 
parlour and bedroom in Buckingham Street, Strand ; 
and, in my youthful vanity, being determined like Mr. 
Pepys, to " go like myself," I dressed in somewhat 
dandified attire, my costume including the then indis- 
pensable item of a very large bandana pocket-handker- 
chief. 

It was " the thing " to allow this gorgeous mouchoir 
to protrude to the extent of half-an-inch from your 



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"NO POPERY'* AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION 221 



pocket. When you devoted yourself to smoking or 
reading in a public room, you placed the handkerchief 
daintily on your knee ; and if you liked to take forty 
winks you threw it negligently over your head. I 
bought a dozen of these accursed — yes, accursed 
pocket-handkerchiefs. The ground was a bright buff, 
with a deep border of crimson. Unfortunately, in 
those days, people carried their handkerchiefs in the 
hinder-pockets of their coats, and I have to record the 
lamentable, the humiliating fact, that in the course of 
three weeks my pocket was picked of every one of the 
much-prized bandanas. Some artful filou had evi- 
dently spotted me one evening on my emerging from 
Simpson's cigar divan, and had followed up his feloni- 
ous coups night after night. But worse remained be- 
hind. The bandanas were very expensive articles ; 
the very best cost twelve or fourteen shillings a-piece. 
Being flush of money, credit was of course forced 
upon me, and I did not pay ready-money to the oblig- 
ing glover, hosier, and purveyor of gentlemen's knick- 
knacks generally, who supplied me with these pocket- 
handkerchiefs. The evil days, as you will presently 
learn, were soon to come upon me, and upon my word, 
the hosier dunned me for eighteen months for that 
dozen of silk handkerchiefs. 



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CHAPTER XXI 

STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 

It occurred to me about the end of the summer of 
1850 that to live on one's capital, especially when that 
capital was limited in amount, was on the whole very 
bad policy ; and after considerable deliberation, I 
made up my mind to turn to substantially profitable 
account the few hundred pounds which yet remained 
to me. My brief career as part proprietor of a weekly 
periodical had certainly not been of a nature to offer 
any bright encouragement as to my chances of success 
in other journalistic adventures. But a passing breeze 
of literary ambition fanned my normally rather slug- 
gish nature ; and I resolved to start a monthly maga- 
zine at the patrician price of half-a-crown. Why 1 
should have called my projected bantling The Con- 
servative Magazine I am utterly unable to explain. 
Although from my early boyhood I had been an ear- 
nest student of every newspaper of which I could pos- 
sibly get hold, I had not, at the age of twenty-two, 
written one single line on any question of English 
politics whatsoever ; and I believe that, fundament- 
ally, I was profoundly indifferent as to whether the 
great Sir Robert Peel or Lord John Russell was in of- 
fice. I had caricatured both those statesmen and 
other public men, impartially, for some years ; but I 
had quite an open mind as to the merits or demerits 
of Free Trade, or the proposal for disestablishing the 
Irish Church. 
On the whole I am inclined at this time of day to 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 223 

think that my crude, imperfect, and transitory ten- 
dency to sympathise with Conservatism was inspired 
by the real sorrow which I, and I am sure many mill- 
ions of Englishmen, felt at the death of Sir Robert 
Peel himself. On the 29th of June, 1850, Sir Robert 
was thrown from his horse on Constitution Hill, fract- 
uring one of his ribs, the point of which penetrated 
his lung ; and after lingering in great agony for some 
days, he died at his house in Whitehall Gardens on 
July 4th, in the sixty-third year of his age. His death 
was deplored throughout the empire. A Tory to the 
backbone in many respects, he had twice sacrificed 
the principles in which he had been nurtured, and 
yielded to that which he wisely recognised the inevi- 
table. The high Tories of whom he had once been 
the pride and glory, as was also William Ewart Glad- 
stone, had naturally fallen away from him ; but they 
had not ceased to respect and even to venerate his 
highmindedness, and his blameless private character. 
By the people he was literally worshipped. The 
average matter-of-fact Englishman might care very 
little about the Maynooth Grant, about Irish Coercion 
Bills, or about the smashing of the Maltese Jew, Don 
Pacifico's crockery by a riotous and fanatical Greek 
mob — a breakage of cups and saucers which led to hot 
debates in both Houses, and culminated in a speech 
of five hours, delivered by Lord Palmerston, in the 
Commons in the course of which oration he enunci- 
ated his famous dictum that the Briton abroad was 
everywhere entitled to England's protection, accentu- 
ating the declaration by quoting from Cicero against 
Verres, the historic phrase Civis Romanus sum. But 
the people at large did care and enthusiastically care 
for the Conservative statesman who had sacrificed 
power to give the millions cheap bread ; and there 
was scarcely a schoolboy who had not got by heart 



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224 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



Sir Robert Peel's pathetic expression of his hopes that 
his name might live in the homes of those whose lot it 
was to labour, when at the end of their day's toil they 
recruited their exhausted strength by " abundant and 
untaxed food, no longer leavened by a sense of injus- 
tice." 

Among the minor but still touching manifestations 
of the essentially national grief called forth by the 
death of this truly good and great man, I cannot for- 
get that in many of the metropolitan divisions of 
police, the constables, with the permission of their 
officers, wore crape bands on their arms in memory of 
the founder of the force, and that on the day of his 
funeral, nearly all the public-houses in the immediate 
vicinity of Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament 
were closed. 

Most of us are the merest creatures of circum- 
stances ; and I am confident now that it was the mere 
circumstance of the unlooked for, and the afflicting 
death of Sir Robert Peel, that led me to christen my 
new venture The Conservative Magazine. It was a blun- 
der from beginning to end. One rather eminent Con- 
servative M.P. did indeed favour us with an article on 
strictly party-lines ; but beyond that essay there was 
scarcely anything in the first number that could be 
considered as advocating, even in the mildest degree, 
of the principles of Toryism. I contributed myself 
a long article, entitled, " Historic Doubts as to the 
Existence of George Hudson," which was a rather 
clumsy paraphrase of Archbishop Whateley's ** His- 
toric Doubts as to the Existence of Napoleon Buon- 
aparte." George Hudson was the once well-known 
Railway King, and when I started The Conservative 
Magazine^ he had just collapsed. I " pitched into 
him," to use a vulgar phrase; but if I had not been a 
simpleton, I should have held my hand, since I ought 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 225 

to have remembered that the dethroned monarch of 
railways was a very sound Tory; in fact, notwith- 
standing the heavy financial difficulties which forced 
him to reside abroad for many years, he never severed 
his connection with the Carlton Club, and towards the 
close of his life, when his circumstances had improved, 
he was unanimously elected president of the Carlton 
Smoking Room. 

Of course, I had also an article on Sir Robert Peel ; 
but instead of being a review of his political career, it 
was only a series of ill-natured strictures on the med- 
ical treatment to which he had been subjected after 
the accident on Constitution Hill. It was supposed to 
be written by " A Country Surgeon " ; but in reality 
the strictures were from the pen of a versatile friend 
of mine. Dr. Gustave Ludwig Moritz Strauss, who 
always gave me to understand that he was by birth a 
Prussian, but who late in life alleged that he was a 
British subject born in Canada, of French parents. I 
shall have a good deal more to say about him later on. 

A second article from my pen in this unlucky 
Magazine was a jerky, scrappy, turgid screed called, 
" What Has Come Of It ? "—being an ill-conditioned 
essay on the French Republic of 1848 and its conse- 
quences. I said just now that, prior to the death of 
Sir Robert Peel, I had no politics to speak of ; but I 
had some political convictions with regard to France. 
I ventured to think the Republic of February was not 
only a blunder but a swindle ; and I did my best to 
advocate the cause of Bonapartism. The remaining 
contents of The Conservative Magazine have entirely 
drifted out of my memory. Holt was my sub-editor, 
and my advertisement manager was a Mr. Richard 
Radcliffe Pond, who had been one of my co-partners 
in Chat. He was a clever man in his vocation ; yet he 
did not succeed in obtaining any advertisements to 
15 



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226 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

speak of for the Magazine, which never went beyond 
the first number. I think I am speaking with accuracy 
when I say that the sale was six copies and a half. 
The half-copy I estimate in this wise : A gentleman — I 
should say that he was a good old Tory, for he wore a 
buff waistcoat — came in hot haste one morning to pur- 
chase a copy of No. One. He explained, however, 
that he had only eighteenpence with him ; but would 
bring the balance in the afternoon. He looked so 
thoroughly Conservative that I did not like to miss the 
chance of securing a possible subscriber, so I allowed 
him to take the number away with him. He never 
came back. To complete^ the list of mistakes asso- 
ciated with this luckless enterprise, I may mention that 
I designed and had engraved on wood for the title- 
page of the Magazine a little vignette of a man in 
armour waving a flag, on which I inscribed the well- 
known saying of the standard-bearer of Constantine 
the Great : Hie optime manebimus : — a thoroughly Con- 
servative motto proclaiming a stern resolution not to 
march with revolutionary and subversive times. Un- 
luckily, I attired my standard-bearer in the costume 
of one of Oliver Cromwell's Ironsides; when, proper- 
ly, he should have been apparelled as a Cavalier in a 
plumed hat and a Vandyke lace collar. 

Peace be with the manes of The Conservative Mag- 
azine / As my name was not attached to it, it does not 
at the present time even turn up in second-hand book- 
sellers' catalogues as a literary curiosity ; and once only 
about five-and-twenty years ago, being driven by stress 
of bad weather into a coffee-house in Holborn, where 
there was a small library, I found to my great amuse- 
ment in the catalogue a copy of The Conservative Mag- 
azine. No. One and last. The coffee-house has long 
since been pulled down; and its site is occupied by 
part of the Inns of Court Hotel. The library was, I 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 227 

suppose, dispersed ; and what became of that solitary 
copy of that wretched Magazine who shall say ? I very 
soon ceased to think about it or about Conservatism 
either. I had just £200 left, which in the sanguine im- 
petuosity of youth, I reckoned that I could 'turn ere 
long into at least two thousand. 

The acquaintances of my friend Dr. Gustave Ludwig 
Moritz Strauss were numerous, and belonged to various 
classes of society. Among them was a gentleman long 
since deceased, and whose name perhaps there would 
be no harm in giving ; but as he may have relations 
who are still alive, I think that the best course to adopt 
would be to call him Mr. Hopeful. He had had, I un- 
derstood, at some period or another something to do 
with the law, but whether he had been a barrister dis- 
barred for some breach of forensic etiquette, or a so- 
licitor who had been struck off the rolls at the instiga- 
tion of the Incorporated Law Society, I really cannot 
say. Suffice it to say that he was on the whole a 
slightly " shady " individual. 

He was a person of most gentlemanly manners ; had 
travelled extensively; spoke several languages, and 
used occasionally to hint at the pack of hounds which 
he had kept in his youth, and the horses which he had 
entered for divers races. You used to meet with these 
travelled, well educated, shady gentlemen much more 
frequently forty years ago than you do now. Some- 
times they had been lawyers, sometimes clergymen, 
and very often captains. I have known two shady 
baronets, and had even a slight acquaintance with a 
shady lord. But he died. I cannot help thinking that 
it is the wonderful acceleration of railway travelling 
and steam navigation and of telegraphy all over the 
world, that has thinned the ranks of the quasi-aris- 
tocratic or quasi -military shady class. Boulogne 
and Calais are no longer cities of refuge for insolvent 



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228 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Britons ; while Brussels and Paris are so continually 
traversed by prosperous English tradesmen enjoying 
their holidays, that the shady debtor must always run 
the risk of encountering a perhaps indignant creditor. 

Mr. Hopeful was a man with a system. I mean that 
he was firmly persuaded that by persistently and con- 
sistently playing according to certain rules at a game 
of rouge et noir, he could win very large sums at a pub- 
lic gaming table. He had been winning very large 
sums between 1848 and 1850; but somehow, after mak- 
ing many thousands of thalers at Homburg, he had ex- 
perienced terrible ill-luck at Baden-Baden, and had 
come temporarily to utter grief at Wiesbaden. At this 
distance of time I hesitate to say that Mr. Hopeful was 
in any respect a dishonest or untruthful individual. 
He was only a confirmed gambler with a System : and 
a gambler with a System must be, to a greater or 
smaller extent, insane. He fully explained his plan to 
me, which was certainly plausible and seemed feasible 
enough. He could manage, he said, to raise £so cap- 
ital. I was to furnish a hundred and have two-thirds 
of the profits, while Dr. Strauss was to accompany us 
as a disinterested friend of both parties and " see fair.'* 

There were a few yards lacking to the completion of 
my inordinate panoramic view of the Great Exhibition 
which was to be; the pen-and-ink drawings were all 
ready to be traced down on the stone, and an artistic 
friend of mine, Mr. Benjamin Clayton, undertook to 
etch them. So with a light heart we set out on our 
expedition in quest of wealth. But whither? you may 
ask. Mr. Hopeful, who was slightly superstitious — ^as 
is the case with most gamesters — ^frankly confessed that 
for the time he thought it better to give Homburg, 
Baden, and Wiesbaden the go-by until at least we had 
well feathered our nest at some less pretentious con- 
tinental tripot. Monte Carlo was not yet in existence, 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 229 

but there was a public gaming house in Monaco itself. 
High stakes, however, were rarely ventured there, and 
it was many hundreds of miles away ; travelling was 
costly, and I doubt even if the railway to Nice, much 
less to the capital of Prince Grimaldi, was completed. 
There remained a choice of two continental towns 
where public gaming was tolerated. There was Geneva 
and there was Aix-la-Chapelle. Dr. Strauss was in 
favour of tossing up as to which of these towns we 
should repair. Heads for the city of Charlemagne; 
tails for the birthplace of Jean Jacques Rousseau. But 
my head was full of what I had read about Karl der 
Grosse and the treasures of the Domkirche and the 
Congress in 1818 to which Carfeme, the famous cook, 
followed his employer, Lord Stewart, afterwards Mar- 
quis of Londonderry ; and as holder of two-thirds of 
our joint capital of iTiSO, I put my foot down and 
resolved that the place for the trial of our infallible 
system — our most infallible system — should be Aix- 
la-Chapelle or nowhere. I had an odd prejudice, fur- 
thermore, against Switzerland in general and Geneva 
in particular. It was not because I had any dislike 
to the Swiss, who are a brave, patriotic, pious, and 
ingenious people, but among divers, doubtless ab- 
surd, idiosyncrasies of mine has always been a rooted 
aversion from mountainous countries, and I knew 
that you could see Mont Blanc from Geneva. It 
has been my lot during a professional career of two 
score years to cross, I know not how many times, al- 
most every known Alpine pass on mule-back, in dili- 
gences, in a travelling carriage, and by railway ; and I 
have always done my best to sleep soundly till we had 
ascended and descended the pass and were in the plain 
again. Over and over again have I traversed the 
Alpines and the Semmering ; I have travelled in the 
mountainous regions of Mexico and in the Blue Moun- 



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230 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

tains of New South Wales. The Sierra Morena and 
the Sierra Nevada in Spain are familiar to me, and fre- 
quently have I risked my neck in a stage-coach on 
roads bordering steep precipices in New Zealand ; but 
I have never ceased to distrust and dislike mountainous 
scenery. 

In fact, I may say that rocks and crags and snow- 
clad summits fill me with horror, not unmixed with 
terror. I long for the valleys, for towns full of noise, 
and bustle, and men, women, and children. This, very 
possibly, you may ascribe first to my being a Cockney, 
and next to my being normally destitute of any appre- 
ciation of the romantic or the picturesque in Nature. 
Such very probably is the case ; still I cannot help 
suspecting that a great part of my distaste for moun- 
tains arises from the circumstance, which I have 
already related to you, that as a boy at school in 
France, 1 won the first prize for geography with a map 
in relief, modelled in clay, of South America. The toil 
which I had bestowed on measuring the altitude of the 
different chains of mountains which I modelled, in- 
spired me, it is possible, with a profound weariness of 
and unfriendly feeling for the real mountains among 
which I was destined in after life so often to wander. 

We had not much money available for travelling 
expenses, and determined to be as economical as pos- 
sible till we reached Aix-la-Chapelle, where, of course, 
after a night or two at the trente-et-quarante table the 
golden Fredericks would come tumbling down into 
our pockets as copiously as, according to Southey, the 
waters come down at Lodore. So we took shipping 
at the old Swan Stairs, London Bridge, and proceeded 
by steamer to Ostend, and thence we made the best 
of our way, I forget whether by diligence or rail to 
Brussels. 

Young, sanguine, and in rude health, I can scarcely 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 2$ I 

describe the joy I felt at finding myself on the shores 
of a country new to me. Hitherto, my boyish travels 
had been confined to France; but here in Belgium 
was a land which, though French in some respects, 
was in others wholly and delightfully unaccustomed 
to me. Brussels filled me with an absolute rapture of 
enjoyment. The steep winding Montague de la Cour, 
with its glittering shops, was perhaps a little too pre- 
cipitous to suit my prejudices ; but, at all events, the 
mountain was one of houses, and not of rocks. But 
the delights of the Pare ; the excellent table d*h6te of 
the Hotel de Flandre — we did not venture to alight at 
the adjoining Hotel Bellevue — and, then, the wonder- 
ful Market Place, the towering Hotel de Ville, the 
quaint old Maison du Roi, the Maison des Brasseurs, 
and the ancient edifice on the fagade of which was in- 
scribed the terrified invocation : " A Fame, Peste et 
Bella, Domine Libera Nos'* Poor Bruxellois ! In the 
old times they had ample reason, goodness knows, to 
pray to be delivered from famine, pestilence, and war. 
Then there were the Galeries St. Hubert, and the 
great theatre of La Monnaie, and a dozen other places 
of interest to be viewed during a sojourn scarcely ex- 
tending over twenty-four hours. 

We had no time to make an excursion to the field of 
Waterloo ; so on the afternoon following the day of 
our arrival, we sped by rail to the German frontier. 
We had a good deal of trouble at the German Custom 
House ; and, for the first time in my life, I made the 
acquaintance of that remarkable type of officialism, the 
Prussian gendarme — a very worthy person, no doubt ; 
martial-looking, well set up, and correct to a button in 
his uniform, but who, to all appearance, labours under 
the inconvenience of having been born with an iron 
poker instead of a backbone. He is a sturdy, gallant, 
honest, and in the main, good-hearted fellow, your 



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232 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

officialised Prussian. Still it is unfortunately impos- 
sible to infuse the slightest amount of flexibility into 
that rigid backbone of his. 

I am unable to form the slightest idea as to where 
the Kursaal, or public gaming saloon was situated. 
Perhaps it may have been somewhere near the Grand 
Monarque Hotel. In any case, we set to work on the 
very evening of our arrival. Neither I, nor the doctor, 
played so much as a thaler, but we stood and watched 
the experienced Mr. Hopeful operating at trente-eU 
quarante ; and from time to time he handed to me his 
winnings, reserving only a sufficient sum as working 
capital. The rooms closed at twelve, and when we sat 
down to supper I made my pockets disgorge their 
Dooty. They were full of thalers and Friederichs 
d'or ; and I should say that our net profits that night 
had amounted to a hundred and fifty pounds in Eng- 
lish money. 

It was the old, old story, so old indeed as to be 
scarcely worth repeating. We had won fully ;6^8oo, 
when Mr. Hopeful suddenly changed his tactics, and 
played another infallible system, by which he very 
soon contrived to lose heavily. Then he went back 
to his old system, and lost at that. Then I thought 
that I would try my luck at the roulette table. In the 
course of two hours I won £^o\ and in the course of 
two minutes I lost it ; the result after a week's opera- 
tions — total collapse. I had a handsome gold watch^ 
a scarf-pin, and a couple of rings; and the discreet 
assistant of Herr Israel Hirsch, or Herr Salomon 
Fuchs, having been called in, and my personal valu- 
ables realised, I managed, with the further aid of a 
Bank of England note for £\o^ which I had secreted 
in my writing-desk, to discharge the hotel bill, and 
pay the fare for Dr. Strauss and myself to Paris. The 
behaviour of Mr. Hopeful, under these somewhat try- 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 233 

ing circumstances, was calm and dignified, and, I may 
almost say, heroic. He acknowledged that his having 
imprudently changed his system had been the primary 
cause of all our disasters; but, although he allowed 
me to disburse his share of the hotel bill, he resolutely 
refused his consent to my proposal that I should pay 
his fare to Paris. 

All he wanted was a couple of louis ; he had got 
another infallible system, by means of which a large 
fortune was to be made by backing the number " thirty- 
five " at roulette : the stake never exceeding a single 
thaler at a time ; but you had to wait for a great many 
revolutions of the wheel before " thirty-five " was 
mathematically certain to turn up ; and it might, per- 
haps, take a whole month to acquire the wealth he was 
certain was in his grasp, and which he generously 
promised to share with me. So I handed him the two 
louis, and bade him a cordial farewell. I got a letter 
from him some weeks afterwards, with the Frankfort 
post-mark ; and in this billet he informed me that Fort- 
une had not yet favoured him to any considerable ex- 
tent, but that he was on the move and hoping for 
brighter days. Would I kindly write to him to the 
address, " Poste restantc" " Poste restante " where ? I 
tried Frankfort ; but received no answer to my mis- 
sive. It must have been some other ^^ Poste restante,'' 
possibly at Pondicherry, or Chandanagore or Noumea. 
Be it as it may, I never saw nor heard from Mr. Hope- 
ful again. 

I devoted a few hours prior to our departure for the 
French capital to paying a flying visit to some of the 
leading lions of Aix-la-Chapelle. Figuratively speak- 
ing, the lions roared, but their roar sounded in my 
ears like a proclamation that " red had won," or that 
"black had lost," while the bells of the churches 
seemed to be clanging forth incessant intimations of 



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234 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

" Le jeu est fatty rien ne va plus'' I saw the tomb of 
Charlemagne over which something closely akin to a 
roulette-wheel seemed to be suspended ; and, finally, 1 
inspected the celebrated hot-springs, which naturally 
at once, and not very agreeably, suggested the remark- 
ably hot water into which I had got myself through 
my belief in Mr. Hopeful and his infallible system. 
But hope springs eternal in the human breast; and, at 
twenty-two years of age, it does not matter much if 
you have been temporarily ruined at a gaming table. 

We had, on the whole, a very pleasant journey to 
Paris, by the way of Strasburg ; and I was much edi- 
fied by Dr. Strauss holding a lengthened conversation, 
in the Latin tongue, with three German students. At 
every station at which the train stopped, the party got 
out to eat butter-brods and sausages, and drink beer ; 
and then they talked more and more volubly in the 
language of Cicero and Livy, and played dominoes 
and cards, and smoked perpetually. When we reached 
Paris, our finances being of the most limited kind, we 
abstained from repairing to an hotel, but took a couple 
of small bedrooms in a tall old house in the Rue de 
rficole de Medecine ; and there we remained till the 
firm of Ackermann sent me a remittance on account of 
a new comic panorama of the Great Exhibition, of a 
more ambitious kind than the former one, and which 
this time was not to be engraved on stone, but etched 
on copper. 

I had some fifty or sixty pen-and-ink sketches to 
make before the copper plates could be attacked ; and 
the autumn being a remarkably fine one, I thought 
that I would take a trip into Lancashire, and even visit 
the Isle of Man. I roamed about north-west England 
for some two months ; and I should say that during 
that period I fell in love at least eleven times, always 
with strictly honourable intentions. My amorousness 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 235 

was, I surmise, of the nature popularly known as " calf 
love." Unfortunately, none of the objects of my aflfec- 
tions would have anything to say to me, much to the sur- 
prise of a worthy old lady who kept an hotel at New 
Brighton, near Liverpool, and who took a fancy to me 
first, because, as she put it, I was " classical," and next, 
because I could eat jam. Jam was certainly a very 
curious road to an old lady's favour ; but she happened 
to have too pretty daughters, two or three nieces, and 
a number of good-looking female acquaintances, whose 
hands were being continually sought in marriage, and 
her main objection to these suitors was that, as a rule, 
they were unable, or objected, to eat jam : especially 
at those high-teas so pleasantly associated with Lan- 
cashire manners and customs. The high-tea of forty 
years since was, and is still I hope, an ideal repast. 

Baked mackerel, ham, poached eggs, tea-cakes of 
every imaginable form, and any amount of jam. I 
noticed that she very narrowly watched the first time 
that I partook of her hospitality. She smiled benig- 
nantly when I asked for marmalade ; but when she saw 
me make a resolute onslaught on a pot of preserved 
apricots, she exclaimed triumphantly : ** He'll do. 
Sally ; he can eat jam ! " Sally, unhappily, was not of 
the same mind with her parent. 

As to my being " classical," her impression in that 
respect arose, I should say, from the fact that, although 
an unsophisticated old lady, who spoke the broadest 
Lancashire dialect, she had a very profound respect 
for people who possessed even moderate scholarship. 
She had known, and had been the humble friend of, 
the illustrious Lord Brougham, and she told me some 
very curious anecdotes of the great orator and lawyer. 
How, when he left his home to go to London, he ex- 
claimed, embracing his mother : " Here goes the Lord 
Chancellor ; " and how, throughout his early struggles. 



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236 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



as throughout his after career of splendour and fame, 
he never omitted to write to that mother every day 
while she was alive. 

When, as Harry Brougham, he was contesting an 
election in Yorkshire my old lady friend had, as an 
hotel-keeper, rendered him considerable services ; and 
he generously acknowledged this help by the present of 
a horse and gig. One story she told me of his child- 
hood, I put in print myself many years ago, but the 
public memory is short, and it is sometimes permis- 
sible* and even beneficial to dig up an old chestnut. 
When Harry Brougham was quite a little boy his 
mother had a careless servant who was continually 
breaking vases and crockery ware, and her apology 
after the commission of one of these acts of destruction 
was invariably the plea, in the local dialect, that the 
broken article had been " crackit " before. One day, 
little boy Harry, who was a frolicsome urchin, man- 
aged to tumble down-stairs, from the first-floor landing 
into the hall. Mrs. Brougham, in an agony of anxiety, 
rushed from the parlour to the succour of her son, 
ejaculating : " Harry, my darling Harry, j'ou must 
have broken your head ! " " Nay, mither," replied the 
future Chancellor, " it was crackit before'' 

My old lady friend had also known Hartley Cole- 
ridge, one of the sons of Samuel Taylor Coleridge the 
poet ; and she was full of stories of Hartley's learning 
and kind-heartedness, his fondness for children, and his 
somewhat excessive addictedness to the flowing bowl. 
On one occasion, in some out-of-the-way village in the 
Lake district, he consented to deliver a lecture on 
Wordsworth ; and on the appointed evening the church 
schoolroom was crowded by an expectant audience. 
After keeping them waiting for a quarter of an hour. 
Hartley Coleridge made his appearance, ascended the 
platform, opened a manuscript, looked round, and then, 



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STARTING A MAGAZINE AND BREAKING THE BANK 237 

in a strident voice, delivered himself of the following 
startling utterance, "Lily-white muffins." That was 
all the vicar, and a curate, and the church school-mis- 
tress could get out of him, and he ended as he began, 
with " Lily-white muffins." So you see, that although 
my old lady friend was not the rose, she had lived on 
the skirts of a rose garden, whence her esteem for that 
which she called " classical." 



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CHAPTER XXII 

BALLOONING 

I WAS in harness again during the winter months of 
1850 in London, steadily working at my etchings, and 
supplementing the moneys I received by occasional 
" pot-boilers," received for water-colour drawings and 
lithographic drawings in chalk or in ink, always for the 
account of my constant patrons, the Ackermanns. Of 
literature or journalism I had ceased even to dream ; 
but that I was not entirely cured of my propensity for 
speculation was shown by the circumstance that ere 
the year was out, I was able to buy a share of one third 
of a balloon. A side-windfall had brought us another 
small freehold house property ; and on the sale of this, 
at Galla way's, I put ;^ioo into the balloon adventure. 
Of the aerostatic machine itself I watched the manu- 
facture, which was carried on in the upper room of a 
floorcloth warehouse, somewhere in the neighbour- 
hood of the Blackfriars Road. The silk used for the 
balloon had first to be carefully varnished, and then 
was cut into long torpedo-shaped gores, which were 
carefully sewn together by women. 

One of my associates in the balloon enterprise was a 
Lieutenant Gale, whose acquaintance I had made a 
couple of years before. He had been, I think, a lieu- 
tenant in the Royal Navy, and had commanded a 
coast-guard station somewhere in the north of Ireland ; 
but he had passed a good many years of his life in the 
United States, following what vocation I know not, 
but failing, apparently, to realise any substantial prof- 



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BALLOONING 239 



its therefrom. He was not like my friend Mr. Henry 
Coxwell, a scientific aeronaut, but he was a man of the 
most dauntless courage — as gallant, perhaps, as the 
Prince of Aeronauts, Mr. Charles Green — and his early 
training as a seaman had given him that quickness of 
action, and clearness of head, and readiness of resource, 
which are absolutely indispensable in what I may call 
the skipper of an aerial ship. He was a dreamer of 
dreams ; and was one of the many projectors who had 
conceived the idea of a balloon which could be navi- 
gated in the air. He had no literary faculty ; but he 
communicated his views to me, and I wrote for him a 
lecture on ballooning in general, and on the possibili- 
ties of aerial navigation in particular, which he was to 
deliver in certain large provincial towns, allowing me 
a handsome proportion of the profits. 

At this period all England was talking about the 
vanished Arctic Expedition, and the lost Sir John 
Franklin and his heroic companions. The lieutenant 
had conceived the odd notion that the ships of the Ex- 
pedition might be lying perdu behind some gigantic 
iceberg ; and his proposal was to proceed in a steamer 
specially fitted up for the purpose, to the Arctic Re- 
gions, and make restricted, or " captive " balloon as- 
cents, in the hope of surveying vast tracts of icy des- 
erts, and possibly lighting on some vestiges of the lost 
ships. I drew out for him a memorial to the Lords of 
the Admiralty, on which document I need scarcely 
say a plentiful douche of official cold water was very 
promptly poured. Then Gale bombarded the Press 
with details of his scheme. A few of the newspapers 
inserted his communications; but they led to no 
greater result than a caricature, and half a column of 
disparaging ridicule in Punch. I believe that the only 
distinguished personage who ever condescended to 
examine Gale's plan with attention, and who looked 



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240 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

upon it with some degree of approval, was the Prince 
Consort. But the lieutenant was miserably poor ; he 
had a huge family of young children, and was wholly 
incompetent to put his views, or make interest, in in- 
fluential quarters. He centred his hopes on an itiner- 
ant lecture, illustrated by models and diagrams, in the 
execution of which I helped him as well as I could. 
He was to commence his campaign at Hull, at which 
whaling seaport deep interest had always been felt in 
the fate of Franklin and his comrades — an interest in- 
creased by the frequent visits to Hull of the devoted 
wife of the heroic explorer. I think, indeed, that Lady 
Franklin even granted Lieutenant Gale an interview ; 
but she failed to grasp the scope of his scheme. 

I took a week's holiday to see my friend the lieu- 
tenant well started on his lecturing tour, so we trav- 
elled to the northern seaport by way of Birmingham ; 
and in the Midland Metropolis I had the advantage of 
meeting and of conversing — I think it was in the smok- 
ing-room of the Hen and Chickens Hotel — with the 
world-famous manufacturer of steel pens and collector 
of works of art and antique violins, Mr. Joseph Gil- 
lott. At Hull we had engaged some Assembly Rooms 
for three nights. We had money enough to advertise 
the lecture pretty liberally in the local newspapers, 
which obliged us with a number of highly compliment- 
ary paragraphs, predicting brilliant success for the 
gallant Lieutenant Gale, R.N., the undaunted aeronaut 
projector of an atrial ship, and potential saviour of Sir 
John Franklin. 

In the course of the forenoon a prominent local 
confectioner waited on me, as the lieutenant's man of 
business, and asked for the concession of the sole right 
to sell refreshments during the free evenings on which 
the lectures were to be delivered. "Certainly," I re- 
plied, " but how much would he give for the privi- 



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BALLOONING 241 



lege?" "A pound," suggested the confectioner. I 
put my hand to my forehead, as though in profound 
meditation, and at length I said, as seriously as I could, 
" Thirty shillings." " Split the diflference. Mister, and 
make it five-and-twenty bob," returned the man of pies 
and tarts ; and, not without some show of reluctance, I 
accepted his oflFer. Alas! for the vanity of human 
wishes, and the fallacy of human hopes. The night 
came, and I was money-taker at the Assembly Rooms. 
Anxiously did I listen for the sound of footsteps as- 
cending the stairs ; but I am afraid, in the whole body 
of the hall and gallery all round, our audience did not 
muster more than six-and-twenty, including half-a- 
dozen fisher-lads, who paid half-price, and the inevita- 
ble old lady with the crush bonnet and the big um- 
brella, whom I have rarely known to be absent from 
the first night of any lecture in the civilised world. 

I have met her in London, in New York, in San 
Francisco, and all over Australia and New Zealand ; 
and I recollect once that she turned up at a public 
meeting of the Byron Memorial Committee at Willis's 
Rooms. Benjamin Disraeli was in the chair, and the 
old lady was in the front row of the reserved seats. As 
the eloquent orator dwelt on the genius and the stormy 
life of Byron the old lady with the big umbrella rocked 
her body to and fro, and to my astonishment began to 
weep bitterly. Whether she was sorry that Lord 
Byron and his wife did not get on very well together, 
or whether she was moved to tears by the moving ad- 
dress of the right honourable president I am incom- 
petent to say ; but there she was, and there she will 
be, I imagine, on many public occasions, long after I 
have joined the majority. 

The worst of it was, that sitting in my money- 
taker's box, with nothing to do, I could hear the 
sonorous voice of Lieutenant Gale echoing through 
16 



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242 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the almost empty hall, and interrupted at no infre- 
quent intervals by cries of " Yah ! " " Shut up ! " " Put 
your head in a bag ! " and so forth. Soon I was to 
hear another voice, tuned to tones quite as hostile, 
close to my own little niche. It was the voice of the 
local confectioner. " Where's the five - and - twenty 
bob?" he shouted ; " Gimme back my one pound five. 
Blow your haoryhosstation." And to these he added, 
I am afraid, a number of verbs and adjectives unfit for 
publication. Fortunately I had taken the precaution 
of locking myself in my box ; so, after shaking his fist 
at me a good many times, he grew weary of vilipend- 
ing me, and, going away, I saw him no more. The re- 
maining two of the course of lectures were not deliv- 
ered. As for the share which I subsequently had, or 
was to have, in the balloon which I saw made, it was 
not productive of remunerative results, since, before 
the machine was completed. Lieutenant Gale accepted 
an engagement to make a series of balloon ascents in 
Paris and in other towns of the French departments. 
At first he was very successful, but a few weeks after- 
wards, at Bordeaux, the balloon in which he ascended 
came to grief; he fell out of the car, and his dead 
body was discovered a few days afterwards half-de- 
voured by dogs in a wood. 



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CHAPTER XXIII 

THE world's fair 

The year 1851 broke tolerably bright on me, I had 
plenty of work, and, moreover, I had struck up a close 
alliance with a then celebrated French cook, Alexis Soy- 
er, for whose cosmopolitan restaurant at Gore House, 
Kensington — to which he had given the attractive title 
of " Soyer's Symposium " — I had painted on the walls 
of the grand staircase a would-be comic panorama, in 
which nearly all the celebrities of the day were de- 
picted. For Soyer likewise I wrote a quarto catalogue 
raisonni describing the decorations and general ap- 
pointments of the establishment. As to my panorama 
on the staircase, Soyer, who was nothing if not fantas- 
tic, and to a certain extent quackish, insisted, to my 
reluctance and no small disgust, in calling it " The 
Grand Mac^doine of All Nations ; being a Demisemi- 
mitragicomipanodicosmopolytolyofanofunniosymposi- 
orama, or Suchagettingupstairstothegreatexhibition of 
1 85 1." I groaned as I interpolated this hideous rub- 
bish in my manuscript, but it was a case of Ancient 
Pistol and the leek. I wrote, and eke I swore. 

The figures in the panorama all had very big heads 
and very small bodies. Some were on foot, some on 
horseback, and some mounted on griffins, dragons, 
giraffes, elephants, hippopotami, camels, rhinoceri, and 
mastodons ; while among the characters represented 
were the ghosts of William Pitt and Charles James 
Fox, Napoleon, Wellington — the great Duke came 
more than once to Gore House — Abd-el-Kader, Gen- 



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244 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

eral Tom Thumb, Joseph Adie, the Quaker swindler, 
Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Lemon, George Cruik- 
shank, JuUien, Albert Smith, Barbier, the tambour 
major, Douglas Jerrold, Victor Hugo, Minerva, Sir 
George Womb well, the father of the present popu- 
lar baronet, John Bright, Cobden, Mr. Toole the toast- 
master, " Graveyard " Walker,* the Marquis of Lon- 
donderry. The great statesman afterwards to become 
Earl of Beaconsfield had not, in 185 1, by any means 
abandoned the pomps and vanities of well-oiled ring- 
lets, gorgeous waistcoats, and meandering gold chains ; 
and on the day he came to Gore House he was ex- 
ceptionally splendid in his attire. He presented Soyer 
with a quotation from one of his novels, which one 
I forget; but it contained an allusion to the Beau- 
tiful, and was printed on white watered silk or satin, 
with a gold fringe. I wonder how many of those 
decorative quotations are in existence, and who are 
the possessors of what may be considered really inter- 
esting relics. 

The cooking at Soyer's Symposium was of the very 
highest class — that is to say, if you had a cabinet par- 
ticulier ; but Soyer had to cater for the masses; he 
had even to supply shilling dinners in an immense 
marquee at the bottom of the grounds, and the masses 
occasionally grumbled. The result from a pecun- 
iary point of view was catastrophe ; and the ener- 
getic chef told me afterwards that he had come out 
of his Symposium enterprise with just ;^ioo in cash, 
in the world. In addition to my artistic and liter- 
ary labours at the Symposium, I officiated as Soyer's 
general adviser and keeper of his correspondence: 
accepting no regular salary, as did his regular em- 

* Dr. Walker, of St. James*^ Place, earned his sobriquet from having been 
prinoqMlly instrumental in bringing about the abolition of intramural interments, 
lo early life he had practised in Drury Lane, and could remember the horrors 
of the graveyard depicted by Dickens in " Bleak House." 



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THE WORLD'S FAIR 245 

ployis ; but taking from time to time a moderate hon- 
orarium from an always open-handed but sometimes 
necessitous artist 

On the whole, I venture to think that my connec- 
tion with the Symposium was, in the long mn, pro- 
ductive of much more benefit to me than it was to its 
founder. I came in contact with a large mimber of 
distinguished persons, and the friendship of many of 
these I was fortunate enough to retain during a long 
period of years. Conspicuous among these acquaint- 
ances was the well-known civil engineer, Mr., after- 
wards Sir, Charles Fox, who, with his partner, Mr. 
Henderson, had taken the contract for building Pax- 
ton's great palace of glass in Hyde Park. He gave 
me a card of admission to the Exhibition buildings 
many weeks before it was open to the public. The 
card bore the magic words, " Pass everywhere ; " and 
I was consequently enabled to inspect ail the minutiae 
of the works in progress, and to strengthen thereby 
the passionate love for technical knowledge which has 
always been predominant in me. Roaming day by day 
about the unfinished, but already marvellous and im- 
posing, structure, I became acquainted with Owen 
Jones, the architect and author of those two great 
works, "The Alhambra" and "The Grammar of 
Ornament." There also for the first time I met Mat- 
thew Digby Wyatt, Charles Wentworth Dilke, father 
of the present baronet, Peter Le Neve Foster, secre- 
tary of the Society of Arts, and Henry Cole. 

Naturally I was at the opening of the Great Exhibi- 
tion on the First of May, 1851. The story of that glit- 
tering pageant has been told so often, and so fully, 
that I am positively ashamed to set down anything 
more on paper touching the beginning, the course, and 
the end of the World's Fair ; but I may just allude to 
one trifling circumstance which I think has escaped 



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246 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



the memory of most of my contemporaries. The re- 
freshment department of the Exhibition — a depart- 
ment at which the catering was of the most meagre 
kind — was conducted on strictly teetotal lines ; neither 
wine, beer, nor ardent spirits being obtainable by the 
thirsty thousands who flocked to Hyde Park. But 
just prior to the opening of the colossal show, Soyer 
received a communication from the Executive Com- 
mittee of the Exhibition, informing him that if he felt 
disposed to tender for the refreshment contract, the 
Commissioners would consider the expediency of al- 
lowing him to sell single glasses of wine. The chef 
had, however, quite enough on his hands with his 
Symposium, and declined to make any tender for feed- 
ing the visitors to the Exhibition. The summer wore 
away, and my series of etched copper-plates, which 
formed so many pictures of the humours of Hyde 
Park, both inside and outside Paxton's wonderful con- 
servatory, were published. I have forgotten the name 
of the book, and, oddly enough, I have never seen it 
quoted in the catalogue of a second-hand bookseller, 
yet a good many thousand copies were disposed of. 
There are some things, I take it, that do wholly and 
entirely vanish from our ken. 

It was mid-autumn ; and in the dying days of the 
Symposium of All Nations a somewhat curious advent- 
ure, and one that had a strong bearing on my future 
career, befell me at Gore House, among the afternoon 
diversions of which balloon ascents had begun to be 
prominent. In one of those ascents I was foolish 
enough to take part — perhaps I remembered my con- 
nection with Lieutenant Gale — ^and, as I have related 
more than once, the balloon, which was under the 
command of an aeronaut named Bell, burst at the alti- 
tude of a mile just after we had crossed the Thames. 
One half-mile we fell like a stone ; then, by the tact 



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THE WORLD'S FAIR 247 



and the presence of mind of the aeronaut, one Mr. 
Chambers, he converted the tattered balloon into a 
parachute, by means of which we descended safely, 
although I was bruised from head to foot, in a market- 
garden at Putney. 

A good many of my literary friends have made bal- 
loon ascents, and one of them, Albert Smith, nearly 
lost his life through the machine descending on some 
scaflFold poles round a house in course of construction ; 
and I am consequently not at all desirous to give un- 
necessary inflation to my own experience of aerosta- 
tics. I may remark, however, that a few days after 
the accident, it happened that I paid a visit to Vaux- 
hall Gardens, where I found my friend the veteran 
aeronaut, Mr. Charles Green, preparing for an atrial 
voyage in his great Nassau balloon. With great cour- 
tesy he oflfered me a seat in the car, observing that I 
should have the opportunity of knowing what an as- 
cent conducted on strictly scientific principles was 
like. It is possible that he had no very great admira- 
tion for Mr. Bell's balloon, which was shaped like a 
large German sausage, suspended horizontally in the 
empyrean. I thanked Mr. Green for his polite offer 
of hospitality, but told him that I had had quite 
enough to do with ballooning, both in a physical and 
a financial sense, and that I considered that altogether 
I was well out of it. 

But now comes a curious sequel to my adventure 
with Mr. Bell and his sausage-shaped aerostat. Escap- 
ing, as I had done, by the skin of my teeth, from al- 
most certain death, I was for several days in a state of 
great nervous excitement ; and I was stupid enough to 
write a lengthy letter to the Times, in which I vehe- 
mently denounced the folly and foolhardiness of bal- 
loon ascents undertaken for the .mere amusement of 
crowds of gaping sightseers. In the course of this let- 



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248 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

ter I remarked incidentally that I was an artist. The 
day following its publication, the Morning Post came 
down on me with a stashing leading article about my 
unfortunate letter; and the writer of the onslaught 
was good enough to opine that if I was indeed an ar- 
tist, as I had called myself, I was probably one of 
those conceited creatures who, because they wore 
moustaches and long hair, and attired themselves in 
pattern dressing-gowns and velvet smoking-caps, de- 
luded themselves into the belief that they could paint. 
The article in the Post threw me for a time into a very 
great rage, not. like Mrs. Bond in the ballad, with 
plenty of onions and plenty of sage — for at the time in 
question I was short, not only of sage and onions, but 
of ducks into the bargain — but with the editor of the 
Morning Post^ and especially with myself. 

Why had I been so asinine as to call myself an ar- 
tist, and why had I written the wretched letter at all ? 
Beshrew art ! I had worked at it since I was fourteen 
and a-half harder than negro-slave ever worked in the 
cane. Its practice had never brought me anything 
better than bread-and-cheese, and sometimes cheese 
failed to accompany the bread ; and I had to confess, 
with inward despair, that I was not destined to excel 
either as a painter in oils or water-colours, an etcher, 
a lithographer, or a draughtsman on wood. Why 
could not I work for the newspapers? Why should I 
not endeavour by sedulous study to qualify myself for 
the profession of a journalist ? I managed to purchase 
at an Aunt Sally shop near Clare market at least a 
hundred numbers of the Quarterly Review. They were 
not consecutive ; they were ragged and dog's-eared ; 
but I got them at the rate of twopence a number. 
Then, almost for the price of waste paper, I bought a 
set of the Examiner newspaper from its commence- 
ment in 1808 to 1 841 ; and then I shut myself up, devot- 



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THE world's fair 249 



ing myself four hours a day to bread-winning graphic 
work for Ackermann, and giving up at least six hours 
more to hard and fast study of essays in the Quarterly 
and the Examiner^ which I knew to have been written 
by such masters of English style as Walter Scott and 
Charles Lamb; as Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Southey, 
Croker, and Lockhart. I was determined in my own 
mind to throw art to the dogs so soon as ever I could, 
and be a working journalist That I did eventually 
become, but through a portal then wholly ignored and 
unsuspected by me. Indirectly, nevertheless, I have 
always attributed my entrance into journalism to the 
slashing leader in the Morning Post ; and so long years 
afterwards I laughingly told the late Sir William 
Hardman, who for a long period was editor of the 
Post, and the chairman of the Surrey Sessions. A just, 
sagacious, clever man. 

Another ally whom I was fortunate enough to make 
in the year 1851 was Mr. Benjamin Lumley, the lessee 
of Her Majesty's Theatre. He came one day to Gore 
House, while I was working at my panorama on the 
walls of the staircase ; we had some pleasant conver- 
sation, since, young as I was, I was already an old 
operatic hand, so far as familiarity with operas and 
remembrance of famous musical artistes were con- 
cerned. The next day Mr. Lumley wrote to Soyer, 
saying that he had missed the name of the young gen- 
tleman who was painting the staircase ; but he wished 
to be reminded of it, as he should be glad to place his 
name on the free list of Her Majesty's Theatre for the 
ensuing season. 

I could not have received a more welcome kindness ; 
and many happy evenings the liberality of Mr. Lumley 
enabled me to spend in 185 1 and 1852. Lumley was a 
type of character well worth studying. He was dark, 
and good-looking, and with a not very pronanci Jewish 



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250 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SAL A 

cast of countenance. His manners were those of a re- 
fined and polished gentleman. He had begun life as 
a solicitor ; and in that capacity had been consulted 
by M. Laporte, a Frenchman, and one of the many 
struggling lessees of the Haymarket Opera House. 
The embarrassments of Laporte, in fine, led to his ar- 
rest and incarceration in the Fleet Prison, where he 
found a fellow-captive in Mr. Chambers, the banker, 
who had also been disastrously associated with Her 
Majesty's. As for Manager Laporte, he got comfort- 
ably whitewashed, and resumed his lesseeship of the 
White Elephantine house ; but he was so struck by 
the acumen and common sense which he had noticed 
in Mr. Lumley that he induced him to abandon his in- 
tention of going to the Bar, for which he was studying 
under the guidance of Mr. Basil Montague, and un- 
dertake the superintendence of the financial depart- 
ment of the theatre. Laporte died suddenly. Mr. 
Lumley was one of his executors; and in 1842 he be- 
came sole lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre. His long 
reign ended, through no fault of his, in disaster, but 
not in insolvency. For a considerable period after his 
abdication of the Haymarket throne he lived in Paris, 
and from time to time we corresponded. 



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CHAPTER XXIV 

ON THE STAFF OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS 

It is time that I should tell my readers that late in 
1 85 1 I wrote my first article, called " The Key of the 
Street," in Household Words, a weekly journal, con- 
ducted by Charles Dickens ; and for the next six 
years scarcely a week passed without my contributing 
a paper, long or short, sometimes a story, sometimes a 
social essay, and sometimes a notice of a book to the 
columns of the periodical in question. Not unfre- 
quently the weekly issue would contain two articles 
from my pen. The estimation in which the conductor 
of the journal was kind enough to hold my services 
has been more than once, and most generously allud- 
ed to by the late Mr. John Forster, in his "Life of 
Charles Dickens." I shall have to tell you, later on, 
that this connection with Household Words, which 
brought me an average weekly income of ;f 5, was re- 
motely the means of converting me into one of the 
/dlest young dogs that ever rambled about between 
London and Paris, London and Lancashire, and Lan- 
cashire and Ireland, and that ever — to all appearance, 
at least — wasted his precious time in a seemingly reck- 
less and wholly indefensible manner. On this head, 
however, I must not forestall things ; the ample con- 
fession of my indolence will be made in due time. I 
was to go through a lengthened course of dogged 
hard labour before I joined the worthless brotherhood 
of lotus-eaters. 

As I have already said, so early as the beginning of 



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252 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

1850 I had, by the advice of Mr. Adolphus Acker- 
mann, one of the partners of the firm whose warehouse 
or " Repository of Arts " was No. 96, Strand, appren- 
ticed, or rather articled myself, to a practical engraver 
on steel and copper. The firm lent me the money to 
buy my articles, and I repaid them by instalments. I 
learnt, and became tolerably proficient in every proc- 
ess of the engraver's art, not only in an artistic, but in 
a commercial sense ; and but for the circumstance that 
my vision has become slightly impaired, and that age 
and too much tobacco have made my hand shake, I 
have little doubt that I could engrave a tradesman's 
bill-head, or the form of a cheque, or a bill of exchange 
now. The engraver's workshop was in Beaufort 
Buildings, Strand, and there I toiled and toiled dur- 
ing the day. At night I worked at the artistic com- 
missions which I got in a studio on the ground floor 
of a house of which I was tenant, in Wellington Street 
North, Strand. The really industrious always have 
leisure ; it is only the idle who are unable to find time, 
even for slight and casual employment. Diligently as 
I had slaved over my plates and lithographic stones I 
had found the time, during at least four months in 
1 85 1, to help Soyer at Gore House; and later in the 
year I had leisure to write, in conjunction with my 
brother Charles and Mr. George Ellis, a pantomime 
for the Princess's Theatre, then under the manage- 
ment of Mr. Charles Kean. I find, in Mr. John Will- 
iam Cole's " Life and Theatrical Times of Charles 
Kean," Vol. II., page 38, that the diflferent pieces acted 
(1851-52) amounted to exactly the same number as in 
the year preceding, namely, twenty-seven, of which 
nine were new. " Amongst the latter the pantomime 
of Billy Taylor must not be forgotten, which completed 
its full attraction of nine consecutive weeks, and fully 
upheld the reputation which the house had long en- 



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ON THE STAFF OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS 253 

joyed in that most important branch of the art dra- 
matic." Mr. J. W. Cole had been, I believe, originally 
an oflBcer in the army. Subsequently, and for sevend 
years, he was, under the Ttom de guerre of Calcraft, 
lessee and manager of the Theatre Royal, Dublin, and 
when Charles Kean became sole lessee of the Prin- 
cess's, Mr. Cole-Calcraft, who had retired from Dublin 
management, became his secretary and confidential 
agent — his first lieutenant, in fact. He did not like 
me, and I did not like him ; and to that mutual aver- 
sion, perhaps, is due the omission in his biography of 
the names of the authors of the pantomime of Harle- 
quin Billy Taylor. 

Who suggested the subject for the extravaganza I 
forget ; but I know that I wrote all the rhymed dia^ 
logue, that my brother wrote the words of the songs, 
and that Mr. George Ellis, who was the stage manager 
of the Princess's, rendered us valuable practical assist- 
ance in arranging the scenario and general business of 
the piece. Dickens took lively interest in this little 
dramatic essay on the part of one of the members of 
his staff ; and while the pantomime was in course of 
rehearsal I rarely went to the office of Household Words 
on business, or sat at Dickens's own hospitable board, 
without his questioning and cross-questioning me as 
to " how the thing was getting on ? " We began to 
rehearse it in the second week in November, and on 
the 2nd of December, 185 1, Louis Napoleon's coup 
a'^tat took place in Paris. That night I left Charing 
Cross for the French capital. I had no journalistic 
mission; there was no valid reason why I should 
leave my work at all, but there was within me an ir- 
resistible impulse to hasten, as fast as ever the rail 
and the steamer would take me, to the scene of action. 
I was a pecuniary loser by the week's trip, which 
cost me ;^20, since all I made by my journey was 



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254 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

£S, the ordinary price for an article in HoiLsehold 
Words, and which article, in this instance, bore the 
name of " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Musket- 
ry." The paper is extant in one of my books, I am 
sure I forget which ; but could I remember its where- 
abouts I should not be so dishonest as to give a r/- 
chauff^ of it in these pages. 

Thus much, however, I may justifiably saj' about it: 
— The concluding words of the title, " and Musketry," 
were added by Dickens, who cordially detested the 
French President, and held, as Victor Hugo did, that 
Louis Napoleon, in December, 185 1, proved himself a 
perjurer and an assassin, and had all the making in him 
of a despot as unscrupulous and as merciless as his 
uncle Napoleon the Great was. Acting upon these 
convictions, either he, or Mr. W. H. Wills, his man- 
aging editor, interpolated in my text some lengthy ex- 
tracts from evidence given by the great Duke of Wel- 
lington before some Royal or Parliamentary Commis- 
sion, in which evidence the hero of Waterloo had 
made some very trenchant statements as to the char- 
acteristic brutality, and ruthlessness of the French sol- 
diery. I may also record that the cellar, in which 
some English fellow-travellers and I spent the after- 
noon, during which the Rue St. Honors was being 
swept with shots and shells by the Government troops, 
was in the Hotel de Lille ct d* Albion. 

One very curious circumstance which I have never 
forgotten in connection with the coup d*itat was that 
when the two days* slaughter was over, Paris not only 
resumed its accustomed aspect of gaiety and frivolity, 
but among the majority of the population there seemed 
to exist a feeling of satisfied relief that the National 
Assembly had been got rid of and that Louis Napoleon 
had become the dominant power in France. There 
had been some terrible shootings down in different 



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ON THE STAFF OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS 255 



parts of the capital, and hundreds of arrests had been 
made ; but the theatres were open, the cafis and res- 
taurants were crowded ; and so tranquil were things 
in general that the courteous landlord of the hotel did 
not dissuade a dashing young English stockbroker and 
myself from making a nocturnal expedition to the no- 
torious Rue aux F^ves, in the He de la Cit6, between 
Notre Dame and the Palais de Justice. We wanted 
to see the cabaret of the " Lapin Blanc/' immortalised 
in Eugene Sue's " Myst^res de Paris " ; and imagining 
that we should find ourselves in a place infested by 
brigands, pickpockets, and bad characters of both 
sexes, we carefully disguised ourselves in shabby 
blouses and grimed our hands and faces. The visit 
to the " Lapin Blanc " was a disappointment There 
was the cabaret sure enough; but there was no 
" Ogress" behind the counter: a stout landlord occu- 
pying the seat of authority. We were quite as unsuc- 
cessful in coming across any villanous guests of the 
" Chourineur," the " Chouette," or the " Maltre d'ecole " 
type ; in short the romance of felony seemed to have 
altogether disappeared from the Rue aux F^ves and 
its surroundings. The tap-room of the " Lapin Blanc " 
was in truth very filthy ; the odour of bad tobacco 
smoke was sickening, and the wine was atrociously 
bad — ^that was all. The street itself lingered until 
1862, when it was improved ofiF the face of Paris, but 
not before Gustave Dor6 had made a vivid sketch of 
the rotten, tumble-down old place. 

Some time in 1852 Charles Kean produced at the 
Princess's an adaptation to the English stage of the 
drama of Tlu Corsican Brothers^ founded on Les Frhres 
Corses of Alexandre Dumas the Elder. The adapter 
was Mr. Dion Boucicault, who, as a very young man, 
had taken the town by storm with a brilliant, although 
somewhat inconsequential comedy called London As- 



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256 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

surance. I cannot remember a period when I did not 
know Dion Boucicault. He had been, when I was 
quite a lad, a friend of my mother's ; he was one of the 
readiest, brightest, cleverest men I ever met ; a good 
scholar, and replete with a simply amazing store of mis- 
cellaneous knowledge. He could repeat you, at call, 
all the inventions of Count Rumford, and tell you the 
circumstances under which stone will disintegrate. If 
you would wish to know what Dion Boucicault was 
physically like you should consult a little old book, 
" The Choice and Experimented Receipts in Physics 
and Chirurgery, collected by the honourable and truly 
learned Sir Kenelm Digby, Knight, Chancellor to Her 
Majesty the Queen-Mother." The frontispiece is a 
portrait of Sir Kenelm himself ; and it is the very " fetch " 
or image of the versatile dramatist of the Victorian 
era. I have often noticed these curious coincidences 
of facial expression in persons born tn different ages. 
Douglas Jerrold, for example, was the image of Mont- 
golfier, the discoverer of the fire-balloon, and the late 
Montague Williams, Q.C., if he had donned a flowing 
black periwig might well have sat to a Sir Peter Lely 
of our times for a portrait of Charles II. 

In 185 1 and for some time afterwards Dion Bouci- 
cault was stock-author at the Princess's ; and his salary 
in that capacity did not, I should say, exceed £1^ 
a week, even if it reached that modest maximum. 
Among the pieces which he wrote for the Charles Kean 
management were an adaptation to the English stage 
of Casimir Delavigne's Louis XL ; a translation of that 
very gloomy French play Z^ Dame de St. Tropez^ and 
an even more lugubrious melodrama called The Vam- 
pire, The play with which, however, I am at present 
most particularly concerned was The Corsican Brothers. 
It came as a new dramatic revelation on the public, and 
was received with rapturous enthusiasm. Charles 



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ON THE STAFF OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS 2$? 

Kean doubled, of course, the parts of Fabien and Louis 
deTranchi. The Chateau Renaud was Alfred Wigan ; 
while to my brother was assigned the very small part 
of the Woodcutter, who only makes his appearance in 
the fifth act, and chants a kind of complainte beginning — 

" Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! my heart is low. 
I've asked Jeannette and she has said me no." 

There was some reason why my poor brother should 
feel somewhat " low " in the region of the heart, both 
on and off the stage. His relations with Mr. George 
Ellis, the stage manager, had been for some weeks after 
the production of our joint pantomime in a very strained 
condition ; and at last smouldering ill-will on both sides 
broke into open hostilities. Charles Kean as in duty 
bound supported his stage manager; and, although 
kind-hearted Boucicault did his best to effect a recon- 
ciliation, my brother relinquished his position at the 
Princess's. He was a universal favourite in the thea- 
tre, and his secession was deeply regretted. Naturally, 
I took his part, and, as naturally, remembering that I 
had some few grievances of my own to resent, I took 
what I thought to be a very legitimate revenge by 
writing on my own account another version of Les 
Frires Corses, 

There was at the period no kind of treaty with France 
touching dramatic copyright ; and English playwrights 
could plunder their French brethren with impunity. 
The French dramatists were quite at liberty to return 
the compliment ; only, unluckily for them we then very 
rarely wrote plays that were worth stealing by the in- 
telligent foreigner. Thus, with a light heart — so curi- 
ously are one's notions of ethics influenced by circum- 
stances — I proceeded to purchase a copy of the French 
drama and turn it into English. I set to work at eight 
o'clock on a summer's night, and the adaptation was 
17 



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258 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

finished by ten the next morning. Then I went to bed 
to sleep the sleep of the just — well ; the questionably 
just — but the grass was not allowed to grow under our 
feet. My brother took the drama, to which we had 
given the title of The CorsicanSy over to the old Surrey 
Theatre, which was then under the management of my 
good friend Mr. Creswick, the tragedian, and Mr. 
Richard Shepherd a transpontine actor of considerable 
ability. My brother returned at three in the after- 
noon ; he had lunched with Creswick and Shepherd ; 
those worthy managers at once accepted The Corsu 
cans ; and, moreover, they had offered my brother a 
twelvemonth's engagement at a handsome salary. 
The Corsicans was within seven days produced at the 
Surrey, and ran for more than a hundred nights. 

I had associated my brother's name with my own 
as joint author ; but he had nothing to do with turning 
the French dramatist's prose into English. Our remu- 
neration was not splendid, but it was sufficient. We 
received twenty-five shillings a night : a sum considered 
in those days to be prodigious for authors' rights at a 
minor theatre ; and the more munificent was the Surrey 
management considered to be, inasmuch as Mr. " Dick " 
Shepherd was said to have been the manager who, 
about that time, having to discuss the terms for a new 
piece written by William Brough, began the negotia- 
tions with this not very encouraging exordium : 
" Well, sir ; we have given as much as five pounds for 
a farce." At the termination of the run of The 
Corsicans my brother left the stage for ever. He oc- 
cupied himself a little with dramatic criticism ; but 
gradually he subsided entirely into private life to be- 
come the stay and solace of my dear mother, who was 
growing very old and infirm. He joined her at 
Brighton and died there late in the 'fifties. 



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CHAPTER XXV 

LOTUS-EATING 

I HAVE now to pass over as briefly as I may, no less 
than five years of what seems to me something very 
much of the nature of a bad dream. I have already 
warned my readers that sooner or later I should have 
to write a chronicle of idleness; and I now unre- 
servedly, yet with no very great shame or remorse, 
avow that between the end of 1852 and the beginning 
of the spring of 1856, there did not exist in London 
town, or out of it, a lazier and more dissolute young 
loafer than your humble servant. 1852, like the year 
preceding, had been a sternly industrious one. The 
great Duke of Wellington died on September the 
14th, in that year ; and immediately after his decease, 
Messrs. Ackermann gave me a commission to execute 
a work far more important than any I had hitherto 
produced for them. It was to etch on a series of 
large steel plates a panoramic view of the funeral pro- 
cession of the great Duke. The many thousands of 
figures in the cortege were first etched on the plates 
and subsequently aquatinted. The figures and car- 
riages fell to my share, the horses — of which there 
were many hundreds — were engraved by Henry Ai- 
ken, a well-known animal painter, and the son of an 
even better known artist in the same branch of art, 
old Harry Aiken ; and at these plates we worked un- 
remittingly for many weeks. 

Plenty of materials had been supplied to us by the 
authorities of the Horse Guards for the uniforms of 



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260 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



the troops which were to take part in the ceremony ; 
and equal courtesy in this respect was shown to us 
botH by the Corporation of the City of London and 
by the Dean of St, Paul's. I saw the pageant itself, 
which took place on the i8th November, 1852, from 
three different points of view. Sir Richard Mayne, 
the Chief Commissioner of Police, had, in the first 
instance, granted me a pass " between the lines," so 
that I was enabled to walk inside the serried ranks of 
military and police, who were keeping the grounds 
from Hyde Park Corner to Fleet Street; th^re my 
pass enabled me to slip through the lines and reach a 
certain house, a stationer's shop on the south side, on 
the first floor of which some friends of mine had se- 
cured seats. The procession, I may say, occupied 
many hours in passing ; and when the military part of 
the pageant had come to an end, I made my way out 
of the house in Fleet Street, passed between the lines 
again, and trudged up Ludgate Hill into St. Paul's, 
and into the metropolitan basilica itself. The funeral 
service was conducted by the Dean, the Rev. Henry 
Hart Milman, D.D. ; of that circumstance I have am- 
ple warranty since I find a npte of my own on the ti- 
tle-page of Dr. Milman's "Annals of St. Paul's Cathe- 
dral," which I bought in 1869, as follows: " I remem- 
ber to have seen him at the funeral of the great Duke 
of Wellington at St. Paul's in 1852, a wonderfully 
ancient-looking, bowed-down man, creeping up the 
nave at the head of the procession." 

We had finished aquatinting the plates about Christ- 
mas, when, utterly worn out with hard work, I took a 
trip to Paris. I was suffering from something else, 
more serious than fatigue. The fumes of the acids 
used in biting-in the plates, and the glare of the bright 
steel itself, when the varnish was removed, had played, 
and I feared, almost irreparably, havoc with my only 



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LOTUS-EATING 261 



valid optic ; and, for the second time in my life, I was 
within measurable distance of blindness. Happily, this 
affliction was spared me, and my sight grew strong 
enough to cover, during the next thirty years or so, 
very many thousands of pages with a small, and more 
or less legible handwriting. I never, however, touched 
an etching needle or a graver again ; although, I be- 
lieve that my kind people at home still keep, in a case 
specially made for the purpose, all the engraver's tools 
and chattels which I used. 

And now for the chronicles of Lazy-land. I had 
always Household Words as a stand-by. There was the 
five-guinea fee for every article I wrote ; I often got 
through two in the course of one week, and if, as it 
more than once happened, I overdrew my account — 
I did so on one occasion to the extent of ;f 20, and, on 
another, of £70 — Dickens would, after a while, laugh- 
ingly suggest the sponge should be passed over the 
slate, and we should begin again. Was this tolerably 
certain income of between three and four hundred a 
year a blessing or a bane to me ? I have not quite 
made up my mind on the subject ; but of this I am 
altogether satisfied, that the knowledge that I had only 
to work four hours to earn five guineas, made me a 
thoroughly idle dog. My Lazy-land was not alto- 
gether situated in London ; I was a loafer, and, ap- 
parently, an incorrigible one — in Paris, in the north of 
England", and in Ireland. But wheresoever I went I 
could find food for my pen, and Dickens never re- 
fused an article of my writing. Otherwise, I was a 
slovenly, careless young ne'er-do-weel. I had certainly 
some means of subsistence, but as certainly I had no 
fixed place of residence. I rose and retired to rest 
when I liked, and I worked when I chose — which was 
rarely. I was very much like the miller who lived on 
the banks of the river Dee. Apart from my very few 



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262 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

relatives, " I cared for nobody " in particular, " and 
nobody cared for me." 

In this bad dream there were a few intervals of brill- 
iancy. Sometimes I would go down to Brighton, 
where my mother and my brother Charles were now 
permanently settled, and lead for a week or two, a 
tranquil, cheerful, happy life. I believe even that on 
one occasion I delivered a lecture, illustrated by magic 
lantern slides, specially painted for the occasion, on the 
coup d/tat in December, 185 1, my auditors being the 
pupils of a young ladies* school at Kemp Town. Then 
I was frequently in Liverpool and Manchester, and 
throughout the County Palatine generally ; but if it 
could be said that I had any head-quarters at all, they 
must have been in London and in Paris — roaring, rest- 
less, good-for-nothing head-quarters, productive of lit- 
tle but waste of time, dissipation, and consequent dead- 
ening of the moral sentiments. If I had any ambition 
to become anything, that ambition seemed wholly sub- 
ordinated to the mere wants of the day, and to a liking 
for vagabondising, sauntering, and treading obviously 
and disgracefully unprofitable paths. Sait-on oU Von 
vat the old saw has it: Did I know whither I was 
going? The question was asked me one Sunday after- 
noon as I was loafing about the Euston Road, my quer- 
ist being a man with a red head, and clad in rusty 
black, who kindly presented me with a tract. " Do 
you know where you are going?" he asked, not by 
any means unkindly. " No," I made answer ; " do 
you ? " 

Other episodes of brightness there were to relieve 
the murky haze of these many nightmares of shiftless 
" truandism." I was a member of a pleasant club, 
called the " Reunion," in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, 
of the members of which gathering, I am afraid, there 
are very few survivors left; but as regards another 



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LOTUS-EATING 263 



club, destined in after years to make a considerable 
figure in the world, I am absolutely and hopelessly at 
sea in my chronology — I mean the " Savage Club." 
Mr. Lionel Brough, the comedian, is, I am told, and 
perhaps with justice, regarded as the highest living 
authority on the genesis of the Savage Club ; but he 
must have been a mere boy when the Savages first 
began their meetings — I think, but I am not quite sure 
— in the parlour of a tavern in Catherine Street, Strand. 
I know that I was one of the half-dozen founders of the 
club ; but why we called ourselves the Savages I know 
not The first annual banquet of the club was held at 
the Crown Tavern, Vinegar Yard — 3, hostelry which 
has a history, since according to tradition, the room 
where we dined had been used for harmonic meetings, 
at which Edmund Kean often took the chair ; and, in 
later years, the earlier members of the PuncA staff, to- 
gether with Henning, and Hine the artist, and Ebenezer 
Landells the engraver, often met in social converse at 
the Crown. Then there were festive evenings at the 
Caf6 de TEurope, in the Haymarket ; and now and 
again I would turn up at " Paddy Green's," otherwise 
Evans's, under the piazzas of Covent Garden. 

But these, I repeat, were only so many flashes of 
sparkling and cheery Bohemian life ; and they made 
the darkness of my five years' dream all the denser; 
The Crimean War broke out, and if I had had the 
slightest amount of what is ordinarily called " gump* 
tion " about me, I should have tried to obtain an en- 
gagement as a correspondent, either literary or artistic, 
of some London or Scottish paper. I made no step 
whatever in that direction ; I was sullenly content 
with the life of an onager — with " the desolate free- 
dom of the wild ass." I saw, however, the entry of 
Napoleon IIL into London ; and I was in Paris during 
the Exhibition of 1855, held in the Palais de I'lndustrie, 



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264 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

in the Champs Elysfees. Returning to England, I was 
for some time pretty closely associated with a little 
comic periodical called Punchinello, which was pub- 
lished in a shadowy passage, between Wellington 
Street and Catherine Street, at the southern extremity 
of the two thoroughfares named. This passage was 
called Exeter Change, and has been long since com- 
pletely swallowed up by the building of the Gaiety 
Theatre, and the reconstructure of the offices of the 
Morning Post. 

It is expedient, nevertheless, to recall the memory 
of its site, since I have more than once read in recent 
publications that the Exeter Change, which I knew 
was the self-same Change where Mr. Crosse had his 
menagerie of wild beasts, and where Chunee the ele- 
phant went mad and had to be shot to death by a party 
of the Guards, stationed either at Somerset House, or 
in the barracks at the Savoy. The old and original 
Exeter Change was an isolated pile, standing in the 
Strand itself, just as Holywell Street, to our reproach 
as a metropolis, still stands. Punchinello never rose 
beyond the status of a weakling, and had not a very 
prolonged existence. The office, however, in Exeter 
Change, served my purpose well enough, since I could 
write there in peace and quiet the articles which I 
despatched periodically to the office of Household 
Words, close by ; and, moreover, in a room above our 
own office, a gloomy chamber, black and not comely, 
I frequently slept, neatly constructing a couch and 
a pillow out of the back-stock of the publication. I 
can assure you that when this same back-stock was not 
of too recent issue, and consequently damp, it formed 
a by no means uncomfortable bed, and, with a great 
coat for a counterpane, what more could a young man 
of five or six and twenty, and of simple tastes, desire ? 

In the summer of 1855, I was a member, and, in- 



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LOTUS-EATING 26$ 



deed, one of the founders, of another little club, the 
existence of which did not extend beyond a very 
few weeks. In the month of April, an estimable noble- 
man, Lord Robert Grosvenor, afterwards Lord Ebury, 
brought a Bill into Parliament to suppress Sunday, 
trading, and the measure was specially directed against 
public-houses and beer-shops. The Bill met with the 
most violent opposition, and in July it was withdrawn. 
There was more than one serious riot in Hyde Park, 
followed by a little window-breaking on the part of the 
mob. An injudicious Member of Parliament, named 
Dundas, made the public suggestion that these riotous 
mobs would very soon be dispersed by the " trail of a 
six-pounder ; " whereupon, the Times newspaper, which 
was altogether against the Sunday Closing Bill, came 
out with a powerful leading article, in which, after 
derisively alluding to the potential effects of the trail 
of the six-pounder, it concluded with a memorable 
paragraph to the effect that, were the six-pounder to 
be trailed through London streets, where would be 
Mr. Dundas and his following ? A highly unpleasant 
feature in the popular agitation was that on a Sunday 
afternoon, when the nobility and gentry who were 
taking the air in their equipages in Hyde Park, as their 
predecessors had been in the habit of doing for two 
centuries, they were howled at, and sometimes pelted, 
by the mob, whose favourite yell was " Go to church ! ** 
Whether the nobility and gentry were thus impelled 
to attend afternoon service I do not know ; but the 
cry certainly drove them out of the Park, and they 
have never since returned to it, at least, on wheels, on 
the Sabbath. Society still delights to show its toilettes 
at Church Parade round about Achilles' statue on 
Sunday ; but on the seventh day the Lady's Mile and 
the Ring are completely deserted. 
The Hyde Park tumults suggested to my friend 



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266 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Thomas Lyttleton Holt, with whom I still occasionally 
consorted, that it would be a capital thing to establish, 
on purely popular and democratic grounds, a place of 
social gathering, which was to bear the name of " The 
Leave Us Alone Club." The ideas of the ex-proprie- 
tor of the Iron Times were always of a grandiose kind, 
and his original plan was to acquire the lease of a large 
mansion in Pall-Mall, at the windows of which on Sun- 
day mornings and afternoons, the members of " The 
Leave Us Alone Club ** could sit — in their shirt sleeves, 
bien entendu — handing to each other glistening and 
foaming tankards of pewter, and smoking the peace- 
ful yard of clay. They were to have nothing to do 
with licences or licensing laws ; they were to sit under 
their own vines and their own fig trees, and who was 
to make them afraid ? They were to eat and drink 
what they liked, and play all-fours and bumble-puppy 
if they chose; and to judges and justices of the peace 
and inspectors of the police they were simply to say 
" Leave us Alone." The only obstacle to the immediate 
realisation of this certainly original scheme was a lack 
of sufhcient capital to acquire the lease of the mansion 
in Pall-Mall, and furnish it even on the most democrat- 
ic and economical basis; so the chairman and com- 
mittee of the embryo club had to draw in their horns 
a little. In lieu of the palatial edifice in Pall-Mali, we 
were fain to content ourselves with the first floor over 
a hairdresser's shop in a narrow part of the Strand, 
nearly opposite to where is now the office of the 
Graphic. 

About July, Lord Robert Grosvenor's Beer Bill hav- 
ing gone to pieces, " The Leave Us Alone Club" simul- 
taneously underwent the process of disintegration. I 
contend, nevertheless, that although there was much 
that was outriy fantastic, and impracticable in Mr. 
Holt's plan, we are as much in want of a " Leave Us 



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LOTUS-EATING 267 



Alone Club "in 1894, as we were forty years ago. 
The Liberty and Property Defence League does what 
it can in counselling people to mind their own business ; 
but its sphere of action is necessarily limited^ and to 
my mind, the " Leave us alone " principle should meet 
with universal, and not merely local acceptance. Ex- 
istence to very many of us, especially to those who are 
more or less public men or women, is becoming abso- 
lutely intolerable, owing to the untiring ferocity with 
which well-meaning disturbers of the peace persist in 
not leaving us alone. The food you eat, the potables 
you drink, the house you live in, the clothes you wear, 
the books you read, the recreations in which you in- 
dulge, are incessantly pried and spied into by people 
to whom you have not had the honour to be intro- 
duced. There are social reformers who would like, if 
they could, to assume the management of your babies' 
cradles ; and when you pay the debt of Nature, the 
Funeral Reform Association thrust themselves forward 
to tell your executors that, on the whole, the Associa- 
tion would prefer that you were buried in a laundry 
basket painted pea-green, in lieu of a respectable coffin 
of wood or lead ; and that they entertain a strong objec- 
tion to mourning coaches, and to the expenditure of 
any money for flowers at your funeral. This I know 
is a digression, but my life has been a series of digres- 
sions, and so have my books. 

One of the oddest circumstances in my life during 
the nightmare period was, that although I was a toler- 
ably ready writer and a fluent speaker, it was but very 
seldom indeed that I sought for any literary employ- 
ment outside the office of Household Words. I do re- 
member indeed, that the editor of an illustrated maga- 
zine, long since defunct, and the very name of which I 
forget, so pressingly asked me to go down to Petticoat 
Lane and see the humours of the London Ghetto on a 



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268 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

1 . . 

Sunday morning, that at length I reluctantly yielded 
to his request, and made an expedition to the bustling 
thoroughfare in question, which is now called Middle- 
sex Street. The humours of which I speak were wit- 
nessed from an open window on the first floor of a 
tavern kept by Mr. " Aby " Belasco, who had formerly 
been a prominent member of the Pugilistic Associa- 
tion, and like most retired prize-fighters, he was a 
singularly quiet and pacific individual. Mr. Zangwill 
has recently so fully and so graphically described the 
outer and inner life of Hebrew London at the East 
End, that it would be impertinent on my part to trench 
on a domain which he has made so completely and so 
agreeably his own. My only reason for referring to 
my trip to Petticoat Lane was that I was accompanied 
by a friend, a young artist, who was destined in after 
years to attain great celebrity. This was the late Mr. 
Keeley Halswelle, Associate of the Royal Scottish 
Academy. He was a wonderfully prolific artist, and 
as 1 knew him had produced hundreds of sketches of 
figures and street scenes, which he drew with a firm- 
ness and surety of outline, than which I have never 
seen anything gracefuUer or more forcible, save per- 
haps the drawings made by Mr. Reginald Cleaver for 
the Daily Graphic. 

Keeley Halswelle frequently practised a process of 
draughtsmanship, which to all appearance has in mod- 
em times fallen into almost complete desuetude. He 
had a block sketch-book composed of so many sheets 
of Bristol board, pasted together at the edges, and 
these sheets were thinly veneered with tints of buff, 
and brown, and light grey, so as to assume the look of 
so many sheets of ordinary coloured drawing paper. 
Then he would make his sketch on the prepared sur- 
face, and this being completed, he would put in the 
high-lights, not with chalk or with Chinese white, but 



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LOTUS-EATING 269 



merely by scratching with a sharp penknife through 
the coloured veneer on the Bristol board. The result 
was surprisingly effective ; he made several Petticoat 
Lane drawings, and was largely engaged, so I was 
given to understand, in drawing for the Illustrated 
News. We were very intimate for some months, but 
after a while I lost sight of him. He went to Edin- 
burgh, where he found many friends and amply re- 
munerative commissions. Then he travelled to Italy, 
and painted many figure-pictures in oil. Strange to 
say, it was not until about 1875 that I lighted upon 
him again and that we renewed our friendship. As I 
write these lines, I turn my eyes towards the first 
sketch for his splendid picture — "Waiting for the 
Procession ** — z, scene in the Campagna in Rome, 
glowing with jewelled colour. To my astonishment, 
when a few years after I again consorted with him, I 
found he had bidden a long farewell to figure-subjects, 
and was devoting his great powers to the production 
of vigorous landscapes. He died in the fulness of his 
fame, and he was one of the few men whom I sin- 
cerely wished I had known better than I actually did. 
Otherwise, socially, he was to me, under many aspects, 
the most mysterious of the many mysterious people 
that I have come in contact with. 

Light breaks again through the tenebrce in the case 
of my first acquaintance with Edmund Yates, whose 
father and mother my own parent had known very 
well during my childhood. In June, 1855, came out a 
new illustrated weekly newspaper, called the Illus- 
trated Times, which was distinctly intended to be a 
rival, and not an amicable one, to the Illustrated Lon- 
don News. One of the proprietors, perhaps the prin- 
cipal one, of the new venture, was Mn David Bogue, 
the worthiest of publishers, who had had in his time, 
extensive and amicable dealings with such writers as 



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270 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Thackeray, the Mayhews, Albert Smith, Shirley 
Brooks, and Angus Reach ; and such artists as '^ Phiz " 
and John Leech. The editor and part proprietor of 
the Illustrated Times was the late Mr. Henry Vizetelly, 
who in youth, had been a distinguished engraver on 
wood. Subsequently he did a little in the way of lit- 
erature ; and afterwards, he and his brother James 
carried on an extensive business as art and general 
publishers and printers, whose oflBces were in Peter- 
borough Court : a London nook or comer long since 
swallowed up by the stately offices of the Daily Tele- 
graph newspaper. The firm of Vizetelly Brothers had 
become extinct in 1855, and Henry Vizetelly devoted 
all his energy to the new journal. I knew him inti- 
mately during very many years of his busy, indus- 
trious, and not very fortunate life. He ought to 
have made a large fortune, since he was not only a 
man of considerable literary attainments and of long 
journalistic experience, but he was also the possessor 
of the keenest business faculty imaginable. There are, 
however, always a certain number of people in the 
world who cannot get on, and Henry Vizetelly was one 
of them. His greatest misfortune did not come to 
him until almost the close of a resolutely industrious 
and generally useful life. Of the Illustrated Times he 
was a most competent editor. 

To this journal, which soon attained a very large 
circulation, Edmund Yates, then a dashing young 
clerk in the Secretary's department of the Post Office, 
and who was scarcely twenty-five years of age, con- 
tributed a weekly column of persiflage under the title 
of " The Lounger at the Clubs." He was a member 
of the Garrick and the Fielding — two excellent cen- 
tres of town gossip of the literary, dramatic, legal, 
sporting, and household brigade world. Other mem- 
bers of the staff were ''Robert Brough, Frederick 



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LOTUS-EATING 27 1 



Greenwood — subsequently the first editor of the Pall- 
Mall Gazette, which he left to found the St. James's 
Gazette — Sutherland Edwards, Augustus Mayhew, 
Edward Draper, an old Westminster boy, a highly re- 
spectable solicitor and not a Bohemian, although he 
occasionally looked in at the Kaiserhof at Prague, and 
partook of a beaker of Pilsner with the genuine Bo- 
hemians. Edward Draper's contribution was a col- 
umn of legal items, entitled, " Law and Crime " ; Au- 
gustus Mayhew, who fulfilled the duties of home 
special correspondent, and was altogether " at home " 
in his breezy, mercurial way when describing fancy- 
fairs at the Crystal Palace, pigeon matches, botanic 
garden f^tes, and so forth. 

When the notorious William Palmel- was arrested 
for the murder at Rugeley, the genial Augustus was 
sent down into Staffordshire to pick up as much in- 
formation as he possibly could about the crime, the 
criminal, and his victim. He was accompanied as a 
special artist by Charles H. Bennett, who had been at 
one time a subordinate member of the Punch staff. He 
afterwards became known by numerous humorous 
works of the artistic kind : especially by a series of il- 
lustrations of the Darwinian theory of evolution ; and 
he afterwards made a large number of designs of very 
subtle character, for an edition of the " Pilgrim's Prog- 
ress," edited by Charles Kingsley. Both the special 
correspondent and his graphic coadjutor were essen- 
tially funny fellows, droll dogs, merry men, mad wags, 
or whatever you may please to call them from a 
facetious point of view ; and rarely, I should say, has 
an altogether ghastly and repulsive history been nar- 
rated by pen and pencil in such a whimsically droll 
manner, as the Rugeley murder was by 'Gus Mayhew 
and C. H, Bennett. They managed to get fun out of 
everything: — Palmer's betting book, John Parson 



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272 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Cook's medicine bottles, and the overturning of the 
post-chaise in which the police officers were convey- 
ing the entrails of the murdered man for chemical 
analysis. This odd expedition was wound up by a 
master stroke. Having apparently exhausted all the 
criminal items at his command, Augustus gave a mi- 
nute description of the little country inn where the 
pair had stayed. The coffee-room and its frequenters 
were droUy delineated by Bennett; and Mayhew, 
after expressing his regret that custom at the inn had 
somewhat suffered from the murder, concluded by 
predicting that the only manner in which the fortunes 
of the house could be retrieved would be the immedi- 
ate arrival of a large number of travellers, " all with 
plenty of luggage ; " and then Bennett proceeded to 
draw a group of ideal travellers and their equally im- 
aginary belongings. 

The world, to poor Charles Bennett, was not always 
a funny one. We were talking one day about human 
happiness and human misery. '' I have had my share 
of both," quietly remarked the artist. " When I was 
quite a young man I had chambers in Lyons* Inn. I 
had married very early ; and I had a child born — sl 
child that died, — the * sack ' from Punchy and the brok- 
ers in, all on the same day." Often and often has that 
brief but comprehensive picture of wretchedness re- 
curred to me, and then my thoughts have turned to 
the old story of the little children in the street point- 
ing at Dante AUighieri, as he stalked moodily along, 
and whispering to themselves, " There goes the man 
who has seen Hell." 

A notable member of the Illustrated Times staff was 
James Hannay, a Scotchman of good lineage, and a 
cousin, I take it, of the present popular police-magis- 
trate. James Hannay's father was a banker north of 
the Tweed ; and James himself entered life as a mid- 



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LOTUS-EATING 273 



shipman in the Royal Navy, which service, however, 
he left before attaining commission rank. I do not 
think either that he had a University degree, but he 
was a very fluent Latinist ; in his confidential moments 
he was wont to say that he knew ''about as much 
Greek as a bishop did " ; and he had accumulated a 
rich store of knowledge of literature in general. He 
was a fluent, nervous, and incisive writer; and was 
gifted, moreover, with strong sarcastic powers, which 
he did his best to cultivate and to develop — not in the 
main with the result of increasing thereby his circle 
of friends. From time to time the members of the 
staff used to write essays on the most prominent men 
of letters of the age. Dickens fell to my share ; and 
naturally I said all the good things that I could think 
of, and as I firmly believed to be true, about my mas- 
ter in letters. Albert Smith was allotted to Edmund 
Yates. Hannay dealt with Thackeray, who admired 
liim greatly, and was personally fond of him ; and I do 
not think that the illustrious author of " Vanity Fair " 
could have paid a brighter compliment to Hannay's 
profound knowledge of early eighteenth-century liter- 
ature than when he engaged him to write the notes 
for " The English Humourists.** 

' Sad to say, Mr. VizeteUy*s staff were not very fond 
of one another. There was a good deal of mutual ad- 
miration among us for our respective capacity ; but 
"chums*' we certainly were not. There were two 
camps into which we were divided, and the camps 
were equally literary and political. Hannay was a 
staunch Conservative, and, although of no university, 
consorted habitually with young Oxford and Cam- 
bridge men. Vizetelly, Augustus Mayhew, and I were 
the fiercest of Radicals ; and Robert Brough was an 
even more irreconcilable democratic Republican ; and 
not one of us had ever studied at any English public 
i8 



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274 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



school or university. In this pleasant state of things it 
naturally came iabout that we were very much given to 
abusing each other in print in ephemeral publications 
outside the sphere of the Illustrated Times. I, as yet, 
had no channel to vent my rancour, since I only wrote 
for Household Words, and occasionally for the Illustrated 
Times; but Hannay had plenty of means for saying 
his say about " the confounded Radicals," particularly 
Brough and myself ; and in the pages of some short- 
lived magazine to which he was a contributor, I was 
highly amused by reading one day the following really 
smart epigram : — 

" Easy to see why S. and B. 

Dislike the University. 

Easy to see why B. and S. 

Dislike cold water little less. 
' As by their works you know their creed » 

That those who write should never read, 

Their faces show they think it bosh 

That. those who write should never wash." 

Whether Hannay was really the author of this bright 
little morceau I am unaware, and it does not at all 
matter at this time of day to know ; but at all events 
it emanated from some one of the academic clique with 
which he was so closely connected. He admitted, 
however, the authorship of a scathing summary of the 
merits of the three little essays on famous men of let- 
ters to which I have drawn attention. His apprecia- 
tion was terse ; it ran simply thus : 

" Thackeray. By a Scholar. 
Dickens. By a Dickensian. 
Albert Smith. By an Ape." 

Edmund was the ape ; but he, too, was not at all de- 
ficient in satiric verve, and he paid back Hannay in his 
own coin, and with interest, on a good many occasions. 



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LOTUS-EATING 275 



The subsequent career of James Hannay was brill- 
iant, but could scarcely be called fortunate. He wrote 
a number of admirable essays in the Quarterly Review, 
and some valuable lectures on " Satire and Satirists." 
He was the author of at least two spirited novels of 
adventure — " Singleton Fontenoy " and " Eustace Con- 
yers " — the last of which was translated into German. 
In 1857 ^c stood in the Conservative interest for the 
Dumfries burghs, but was defeated by the former 
Member, Mr. Ewart. In i860 he became editor of the 
Edinburgh Couranty in which he wrote scores upon 
scores of trenchant, witty, and vivacious leading arti- 
cles, many of which would well bear republication. 
He was highly popular in the literary society of mod- 
ern Athens; but Hannay was rather too fond of con- 
troversy, and was occasionally, when disputing with 
his opponents, something of a mauvais coucheur ;^ thws 
he did not get on very well with the Scottish clergy, 
whom he accused of being sadly deficient in classical 
learning. 

He resigned his editorial chair in 1854, and was 
heartily welcomed back to London by his old friends 
and colleagues. In 1868 he was appointed, through 
the interest of the late Earl of Derby, who had a high 
appreciation for his talents — ^an appreciation which was 
shared by Carlj^le — ^to the post of British Consul at 
Barcelona, and in that Catalonian city, in 1873, poor 
James Hannay died. He was barely forty-six years 
of age. He ought to have survived me. He ought 
to have gone into Parliament, and he would have made, 
I think, as great a mark there as John Morley has 
done ; since Hannay was a most fluent, polished, and 
convincing speaker, with a rare store of illustrations 
always at his command. On the whole, I think that 
men of letters of repute condemn themselves to a bar- 
ren and cheerless exile when they accept the morsel of 



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276 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



official cafs-meat which is sometimes flung to them in 
the shape of a consulate abroad. Their salary only- 
just suffices to enable them to support themselves in 
due official respectability ; but although they may not 
■ entirely abandon their connection with literature, they 
usually work less than they did before their elevation 
to a quasi-diplomatic position ; and the world, which 
is about the most ungrateful of all possible worlds, is 
apt more or less to forget them. 

The last member of the staff of the Illustrated Times 
of whom a few words may be said is your humble ser- 
vant. Somehow or another, Henry Vizetelly discov- 
ered that the roving, picaroon life that I had been liv- 
ing for the last four or live years, combined with the 
number and variety of the articles which I had written 
in Household Words, had been gradually qualifying me 
for the craft of journalism in right serious earnest. 
And now, perhaps, you will be able4:o understand why 
it is that in the winter of my life I can think of mj*- 
ultra-Bohemian days without remorse and without 
shame. I had learned, albeit half unconsciously, the 
trade of a newspaper-writer, even as I had previousi)' 
learned the trade of an engraver. I had not, to my 
knowledge, done anybody any harm ; and, so far as 
my anonymous contributions for Household Words was 
concerned, I had striven to do as much good as it lay 
within my limited powers to accomplish. No ; I am 
not sorry, and I am not ashamed, since in the winter 
of my life I find myself, through the mercy of Provi- 
dence, sitting in my own house at Brighton, surrounded 
by books and pictures and bric-hJfrac. 

I have said that when the Crimean War broke out 
I had stupidly refrained from making any attempt to 
procure an appointment as correspondent of some 
London newspaper. A little special correspondence, 
indeed, I did accomplish in connection with the cam- 



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LOTUS-EATING 2^^ 

paign in the Tauric Chersonese, but without quitting 
the shores of my native country. The British Govern- 
ment was, throughout the war, sorely pressed for food 
for powder ; and among the auxiliaries whom it was 
thought expedient to organise was a German Legion. 
These solid, sturdy mercenaries, enlisted from every 
quarter of the Fatherland, were landed at Dover, and 
formed into a camp at Shorncliffe ; and Vizetelly sent 
me down to write a description of a review of the 
Legion by the Duke of Cambridge. The General com- 
manding the Legion was a certain Baron von Stut- 
terheim. I wrote two or three columns about the 
review, and made half-a-dozen sketches of divers epi- 
sodes of the occasion. The figure sketches were good 
enough to be engraved at once, but the attempts at 
landscape were so bad that they had to be drawn on 
the wood by Birket Foster. 

A little later Edmund Yates was appointed editor of 
. a weekly illustrated periodical of avowedly facetious 
character, called the Comic Times ; and it struck me 
that it might be advantageous to all parties if I called 
on Mr. Yates and had a talk with him about the desir- 
ability of my contributing to the new journal, I think 
that I had met him two or three times in the early 
days of the Illustrated Times, but I had only the slight- 
est personal acquaintance with him. I went one even- 
ing to the house which he then occupied in Doughty 
Street, Gray's Inn Road. Scores of my literary and 
journalistic friends seem to have lived, at some period 
or another, in Doughty Street. Mr. Yates received me 
with great affability : laughingly observing that he had 
thought of writing to me as a possible contributor to the 
Comic Times, but that Dickens had told him that there 
was not much chance of my joining his staff, as Houses- 
hold Words were quite willing to take all that I could 
write, and could not always get enough copy out of me. 



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278 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALIl 

So you see that the bad dream was slowly clearing 
away, that the nightmare years were coming to an 
end, and that there was beginning to shine around me 
a very bright light, by means of which I was able to 
read a precept, which for a very long time had been 
almost invisible to me — that it was an excellent thing 
for a man who had any knowledge or any capacity in 
him to work many hours for six days in every week ; 
and that the harder, more sedulously and more faith- 
fully he worked the better it would be for his body 
and his soul's health. I suppose there is such a thing 
as overwork ; I suppose that our mental faculties may 
sometimes be impaired b}'^ constant study or by almost 
incessant intellectual labour ; but I do, once for all, de- 
clare that continuous hard work never did me any 
harm, and that for the last thirty-seven years — when I 
have not been prostrated by sicknessr— a day*s idleness 
has always made me uncomfortable^ and a week's idle- 
ness miserable. 

Edmund Yates and I speedily became fast friends ; 
and that friendship continued until the period of his 
lamented decease. After the stoppage — which was not 
very long delayed — of the Comic Times, Edmund, with 
a small collected band of his literary and artistic as- 
sociates, of whom I was one, formed themselves into a 
kind of syndicate for the purpose of starting a monthly 
magazine, to be called The Train. Of that magazine 
he has himself told the story so exhaustively and so 
amusingly that it is needless for me to say anything 
about it, save in the briefest and most incidental man- 
ner. First, however, I must go back a little, and men- 
tion that, at the very beginning of the Crimean War 
— ^the precise time was, I think, when the British ex- 
peditionary force had proceeded no further than Gal- 
lipoli — I had myself become the editor of a weekly 
periodical called London. I drew the frontispiece my- 



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LOTUS-EATING 279 



self, by means of one of the earliest of the " processes/' 
the excessive multiplication of which is now threaten^ 
ing to bring wholesale ruin on the art of wood-cutting 
and engraving on metal. The process was called " gly- 
phography," and my frontispiece represented the por- 
tico of a temple, decorated with all ](inds of symbolic 
allusions to metropolitan matters, and flanked on either 
side by a gigantic Beefeater. 

London was financed by a certain Peter Morison, 
who was running an establishment called the Bank of 
Deposit, in St Margaret's Place, Trafalgar Square. 
Five per cent was the interest generously promised 
by Peter Morison on cash deposits, large or small, 
withdrawable at six months' notice ; and a good many 
thousands of pounds, I believe, were placed by a con- 
fiding public in Peter's always open hand. After a 
while there grew up in City circles a disagreeable 
impression that jthe Bank of Deposit was rather a 
" fishy " concern ; and this impression soon developed 
into a strong conviction that Peter himself was not 
altogether an immaculate financier. About his mone- 
tary operations I knew absolutely nothing, but I liked 
the man, who was of a frank, cheery, liberal, and 
genial disposition. He paid me well ; and I gave him 
good worth for his money. London was not a success- 
ful periodical ; and after a few weeks it preceded the 
Bank of Deposit in going to what is popularly known 
as " smash." I never saw Peter Morison again ; but I 
always preserved a kindly feeling for the man, whom I 
could not help thinking was much more sinned against 
than sinning ; and on one occasion, after I had joined 
for good and all the profession of journalism, and was 
asked to write an article, in which Peter's financial 
modes and manners were to be smartly held up to 
censure, I firmly declined to pen one anonymous word 
against a man of whose business practices I had had 



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280 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA' 

not the slightest cognisance, but who had always 
treated me in a kind and honourable way. 

Before parting with the unlucky Peter I have to 
draw attention to a slightly curious circumstance. In 
1854 I had written for Dickens a series of papers — 
being practically^ an answer to a pamphlet by Albert 
Smith — called " The Great Hotel Question," dealing 
with the then very much vexed question of English 
hotels, their discomfort, their exorbitant charges, their 
bad cuisincy and their fiery and costly wines. I had, 
myself, an open mind in the matter ; and in some in- 
stances I was inclined to agree with Albert as to the 
vast superiority of continental hotels over our own. 
As yet my travels had been limited. I knew Paris 
well, but beyond my familiarity with the gay city I 
had only been to Brussels, to AixJa-Chapelle, and to 
Cologne ; whereas the author of the " Great Hotel 
Nuisance " had travelled extensively, not only in 
France and Belgium, but in Germany, Switzerland, 
and Italy. 

Somehow or another it occurred to me to formulate 
a project for an English hotel, on a very magnificent 
scale, to be built by a joint-stock company, on the 
lines of the then new Grand Hotel in Paris. There 
was to be a ladies* coffee-room, a daily table-d hSie, and 
in particular, a fixed scale of charges for attendance — 
all boons which were then lacking to British hostelries. 
I wrote an elaborate prospectus for the formation of 
such a company, and the foundation of such an hotel ; 
and this document I laid before Peter Morison. He 
read it attentively, and approved generally of its 
tenour ; but his ultimate reply was unfavourable. " I 
have not got enough capital myself," he said, " to start 
it on my own account ; and as for a joint-stock com- 
pany, why, my dear fellow, every one of the directors, 
and the shareholders too, would be liable to be arrest- 



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LOTUS-EATING 28 1 



ed any morning for ;^ 10,000 for a butcher's bill, or 
;^ 5,000 for a milk score." This, you will bear in mind, 
was 1854. In 1855 there was passed an Act for limit- 
ing the liability of joint-stock companies. I was just 
one year too soon in formulating my scheme for an 
English Grand Hotel, and I may hint that through- 
out my career I have generally been a little too soon 
or a little too late in the exposition of my ideas on 
most subjects. 



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CHAPTER XXVI 

MY FIRST " JOURNEY DUE NORTH " 

Edmund Yates was never, to my knowledge, a mem- 
ber of the Savage Club ; but he was president of a 
little society which had no settled place of meeting, 
but was convened from week to week in a coffee-room 
at some hotel or other. Its name was appropriate 
enough, being the " Trainband " ; and its members 
were nearly all of them writers or artists, who were 
engaged on the Illustrated Times or had been connect- 
ed with the short-lived Comic Times. The story of The 
Traiuy a shilling monthly magazine, which emanated 
from the Trainband, has been related at length by 
Edmund in his "Reminiscences." It made its first 
appearance in January, 1856, but I was not in England 
at the time ; I was in Paris, and I remained in the gay 
city until the close of the Crimean War, The ces- 
sation of hostilities between Great Britain and her 
French ally and Russia, proved to be the turning- 
point in my career. I wrote to Dickens a long letter 
saying that, now that the war was over, it occurred to 
me that the British reading public would like to know 
something about Russia itself, its manners, and social 
usages ; and I proposed that he should send me to 
St. Petersburg and Moscow, in order that I should 
write a series of descriptive essays touching Muscovy 
and the Muscovites, in the pages of Household Words. 

He wrote me in return, fully and kindly, and very 
gladly accepted my offer. His letter was, in parts, 
truly touching, and I should dearly like to reproduce 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 283 

it here ; but regret to say that I lost it. However, I 
delayed not in returning to England to make arrange- 
ments for my journey. It was beautiful spring weather, 
and Mr. Wills proposed that I should avail myself of a 
steamer from Hull, or some other seaport in the north 
of England, and travel direct to Cronstadt by sea ; but 
that arrangement did not in anywise suit my inclina- 
tion. » I had only had, as yet, the merest glimpse at 
Germany ; so I elected to proceed by the way of Ber- 
lin ; and thence, always by land, to St. Petersburg : 
drawing, of course, some Household Words pictures by 
the way. Dickens consented that I should take this 
route ; so, one April evening, having obtained a For- 
eign Office passport, a supply of ready cash, and a 
letter of credit on Messrs. Stieglitz, the well-known 
bankers of St. Petersburg, I took my departure from 
London Bridge terminus for Dover and Calais ; and, 
in due time, reached Berlin, where I sojourned for a 
few days, at a then very favourite resort for travellers, 
the Hotel de Russie, on the Schloss Briicke. My 
travelling companion was a gentleman whom, it turned 
out afterwards, I had frequently seen in his public 
capacity, but of whose identity when I met him, wrapt 
up in a heavy pelisse, and with a travelling cap drawn 
down over his eyes, I had not the remotest idea. The 
railway carriage, again, was badly lit ; and besides, I 
always had a very defective memory for faces. 

My travelling companion spoke English with per- 
fect fluency, but with a strong French accent He 
told me, between Calais and Brussels, and Brussels 
and the Prussian capital, a tissue of most astonishing 
stories about the people he had known, and the things 
which he had done. Such extraordinary rhodomon- 
tade I had seldom listened to ; but he was evidently a 
very good fellow ; so I let him " blow," as the Austra- 
lians phrase it, as long as he liked, without interrupt- 



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284 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

ing him. Now and again I asked myself, mentally, 
who the man could be ; but I declare for the life of me 
I could not determine who or what he was. It was 
not until the ensuing September that I sent any manu- 
script to Household Words ; but in one of my earliest 
papers about the North, I gave that which I thought 
and meant to be an altogether good-natured, although 
somewhat bantering description, of my unknown 
friend in the fur pelisse and the travelling cap which 
came down over his nose. 

Years sped by. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 
was under the management of the late Mr. Chatter- 
ton ; and a favourite member of his company was my 
esteemed friend, the talented dramatic artist Miss 
Genevieve Ward. " How is it," she asked me one 
day, " that poor, old, widowed Madame Jullien, who is 
housekeeper at the theatre, hates you so ? " " Hates 
me ! " I exclaimed in amazement ; " Why I have never 
written an unkind word against Jullien in my life. I 
always admired his talent and his pluck, and have al- 
ways tried to say a kind word for him." It was now 
Miss Ward's turn to be astonished. " You never said 
an unkind word about him ? " she repeated. " Do you 
forget your cruel caricature of him in Household 
Words ? " My travelling companion had been no 
other than the renowned Jullien, composer of the 
" Row Polka," the " Irish Quadrilles," and conductor 
of, I know not how many hundreds or thousands of 
Promenade Concerts. My memory had played me an 
unaccountable trick; for as I have elsewhere noted I 
had painted in 1850 a portrait of the composer of the 
" Row Polka " on the staircase at Gore House. 

I found it was much more difficult than I had imag- 
ined to make. my way by land from Berlin to St. Pe- 
tersburg. I was advised by the landlord of the Hotel 
de Russie to purchase a small travelling carriage, 



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MY FIRST " JOURNEY DUE NORTH " 28$ 

which I could sell again on arriving at the Russian 
frontier, where I should find a regular service of post- 
ing carriages. Then again, he remarked, if I liked to 
wait for a fortnight or so, a Queen's Messenger might 
be starting from Berlin, bound for the North, and for 
a consideration I might obtain a seat in his carriage. 
There was no hurry, and I concluded to wait ; but as 
it did not take long to exhaust the lions of Berlin, and 
time began to hang heavy on my hands, I ran down 
by rail to Swinemiinde, in Pomerania, whence I 
crossed to Copenhagen, and revelled for three whole 
days in the splendid display of plastic art in the Thor- 
waldsen Museum. 1 did not know anybody in the 
Danish capital, but I met a very friendly gentleman at 
the hotel table-d'kStey who spoke English perfectly, 
and who told me that he hoped that the next time I 
came to the capital of Denmark I would pay him a 
visit; and, as an additional incitement to accept his 
proffered hospitality, he mentioned that he had fifteen 
kinds of brandy in his cellar. 

It chanced that nearly twenty years afterwards 1 
had an equally fascinating offer of alcoholic refresh- 
ment. Once a year, on the feast or anniversary of the 
death of St. Thomas k Becket, a large number of 
Roman Catholic ladies and gentlemen make a pilgrim- 
age to Canterbury, " the shrine of the holy blissful 
martyr there to seek." On one occasion I joined for 
journalistic purposes the modern Canterbury Pil- 
grims ; but I did not repair to the venerable Kentish 
cathedral on horse-back, as you behold the palmers, 
male and female, in Stothard's picture. I just availed 
myself of the facilities offered by the South Eastern 
Railway; and the Knight and the Squire, the Nuns, 
Priest, and the Wife of Bath ; the Cook, the Shipman, 
and myself made up a very snug little party in a first- 
class carriage ; and we told stories all the way. Need- 



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286 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

less to hint that our Canterbury Tales were not Chau- 
cerian either in matter or in manner ; still they made 
us laugh consumedly ; arid a lengthened experience of 
a world which it is ungratefully and hypocritically 
wicked to call a Vale of T, has long since fixed in my 
mind the conviction that one of the secrets of long life 
is to laugh as often and as heartily as ever you possi- 
bly can. One of my fellow-pilgrims — I think it was 
the Knight — was no great story-teller ; but he was an 
exemplary laugher. I had just come home from 
Spain ; and he was so delighted with some merry cosas 
de Espana which I related, that shortly after we had 
left Croydon he whispered to me : " Sir, I have read 
several of your books ; I am a wine merchant, tf«^/ / 
should very much like to send you a case of sparkling 
brandy^ Sparkling brandy! Surely that must have 
been the nectar of the gods on old Olympus. I gave 
him my address; but somehow or another the case of 
eflFervescing ambrosia never came to hand. 

From Swinemiinde I went on to Stettin, a quaint old 
Pomeranian seaport, very comfortable, but very dull ; 
and the ice in the Baltic being by this time completely 
broken up and the weather lovely, I thought that I 
might as well proceed to St. Petersburg, or rather 
Cronstadt, by sea. How I accomplished this not very 
adventurous voyage I have related in a book called 
" A Journey Due North." I remained in St. Peters- 
burg and its vicinity from mid-April until mid-Sep- 
tember; and I can, without exaggeration, say that I 
have rarely in the whole course of my life passed five 
such months of unmingled happiness as I did in the 
metropolis of his Tsarish Majesty Alexander Nicolai- 
vitch II. I was still young ; I was in first-rate health ; 
I had a sufficiency of cash, and had bidden that which 
I hoped was to be a lasting farewell to Bohemia and 
its nightmares. I set to work very hard at learning 



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MY FIRST " JOURNEY DUE NORTH " 287 

Russian ; but I was not expected to forward any copy 
to Household Words until I had left Russia. The war 
was just over ; still, when I left England, there existed a 
general and uneasy impression that our late foes did 
not entertain any very amicable feelings towards John 
Bull ; and that dark political intrigues and machina- 
tions would be henceforward the weapons with which 
Prince Gortschakofif would fight England. 

The Russian Government, again, were accused of 
the systematic and continuous opening of letters des- 
patched by or addressed to foreigners resident in Rus- 
sia; and sharing as I did in 1856 in this belief, it is 
amusing to remember in 1894 that for some years past 
a niece of mine has been living in the Tsar's domin- 
ions, and that at present her husband holds an appoint- 
ment in the General Post Office, St. Petersburg. In 
1856, being reluctant to give any trouble to the Cabi- 
net Noir of the Petropolitan General Post OflBce, I did 
not in the course of five months write as many as a 
dozen letters home; and, as these communications 
were of a strictly private and domestic character, I do 
not suppose that the Bureau of Secret Police derived 
much — if they derived any benefit at all — from the 
perusal of my few and far-between epistles. That they 
were opened, I had, nevertheless, reason to know. 
Before leaving England, I had agreed with my brother 
Charles at Brighton that we should place in our letters 
a single human hair ; and neither in the letters which 
he sent me, nor in those which he received from me, 
was the solitary hair ever discovered. 

The device was none of my own. It was invented, I 
believe, by Giuseppe Mazzini, who made use of it at a 
period when he began to suspect that the correspon- 
dence which he received from abroad was opened at 
the General Post Office, St. Martin's-le-Grand, by the 
authority of Sir James Graham, then Home Secretary; 



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288 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the contents being communicated to the Neapolitan 
Minister in London. This scandalous breach of good 
faith earned for Sir James Graham the opprobrious 
sobriquet, first conferred by Punch, oi "Peel's Dirty 
Little Boy." The epithet must have been the more 
galling since the letter-opening Home Secretary was 
sartorially considered one of the best dressed person- 
ages in England, and in private life was a high-bred 
and high-minded gentleman. What a book it would 
make — " The Dirtiness of Politics ! " 

Acting under the advice of a fellow-passenger on 
board the steamer, I fixed my quarters in the entrance 
at an hotel called the Hotel Heyde in the suburban 
island of Vacili Ostrof. I am aware that I am guilty 
of a pleonasm in so calling it, since the Russian word 
Ostrov means island ; but then, do not the Spaniards 
speak of " El Puente de Alcantara," the bridge of the 
bridge — cantara meaning, in Arabic, a bridge. The 
Hotel Heyde was an establishment almost exclusively 
conducted on Germanic lines. The waiters and cham- 
bermaids were all Teutons, and consequently all scru- 
pulously honest ; and only the porters and scrubbers 
and scullions were of the Moujikor Muscovite peasant 
class. The cuisine, too, was mainly of the Fatherland 
pattern — plenty of boiled beef and vegetables, plenty 
of sauerkraut, and raw-smoked salmon and ham; 
plenty of Rhine wines, and strong Bavarian and less 
potent Vienna beer ; and the weather being now de- 
lightfully warm, plenty of fnaitrank, a beverage with 
the ingredients of which I am not fully acquainted, 
but which seems to me to come nearer the idea of the 
nectar of the gods than the Canterbury Pilgrim's 
sparkling brandy might have done, had I been privi- 
leged to taste it. A few typical Russian dishes made, 
it is true, their appearance at luncheon and dinner. To 
begin with, there were ptrogueSy which may be defined 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 289 

as small oval pies, or rather puffs, inside which was not 
jam, but highly-flavoured mincemeat. These served 
to stay your stomach while they were bringing you 
your meal, and served, moreover, as an agreeable in- 
terlude between the courses. Then there was invari- 
ably steki on hand ; it is the national soup, and partak- 
en of by rich and poor alike. The moujik eats it 
when he has sufficient kopecks to purchase it ; and it 
is served at the coronation banquets of the Tsars. It 
is simply a soup made of beef-broth and cabbage, to 
which are added small square blocks of boiled beef. 
Persons able to afford it supplement this really tooth- 
some dish with a few spoonfuls of sour cream. This, 
however, is not purely Russian. A sort of flummery 
of thickened and curdled milk is used in Germany ; 
but the Russian sour cream more closely resembles 
the Turkish yaourt, which is so lustily cried in spring 
time by the itinerant street-vendors of Stamboul. 
Very small spring chickens fried in batter, and which 
you crunched, bones and all, likewise made a fre- 
quent appearance in Heyde's bill of fare ; but I was 
not initiated as yet into the higher mysteries of the 
Muscovite, and especially the Tartar, kitchen, which 
are enjoyed at certain patrician restaurants in the two 
capitals of the empire. 

It was early in the evening when I reached Heyde's, 
and was accommodated with a large and extremely 
uncomfortable bedroom on the third floor. The only 
thing to which I can compare the proportions of the 
grotesquely exiguous bed with the apartment in which 
it stood is an oyster at the bottom of a barge. How- 
ever, I got a sufficient amount of sleep out of it ; and 
the first things which I saw when I looked out of one 
of the windows — ^there were five — in my room were 
six enormous birch-rods lying all of a row on the leads 
beneath. " Ah ! " I mentally exclaimed. '• I was in 
«9 



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290 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Despotic Russia, the land of the rod, the cat-o'-six-tails 
— not nine — and the knout." Before I had finished 
dressing, perhaps, I should hear the shrieks if I did 
not actually witness the anguish of wretched wood- 
choppers and drudges and kitchen-maids who were 
being scourged by the lictor of the hotel. Nothing 
whatever of the kind took place. Three sturdy moujikSy 
it is true, made their appearance, with their caftans 
off and their red cotton shirt sleeves tucked up ; but 
they brought with them, not a group of pale and 
trembling delinquent domestics, but sundry coats and 
pelisses — my own among the number — which, extend- 
ing them to a line stretched between two uprights, 
they proceeded to castigate mercilessly with the big 
birch-rods, in order to get the dust out of the garments. 
Let me say, once for all, that there has been no 
small amount of stories which have been told about 
the frequency and ferocity of corporal punishment in 
Russia. You must remember that when I first went 
there slavery still existed, and there were millions of 
serfs in the empire. The punishment of the knout was 
still publicly inflicted, as it was in John Howard's 
time, in a small square at the summit of the Nevskoi 
Perspektive ; but, so far as I am aware, nobody was 
knouted during my stay in St. Petersburg. In remote 
provincial districts, I have heard of noble landowners, 
of both sexes, who beat their servants, or caused them 
to be beaten, very barbarously ; but in St. Petersburg 
or Moscow it was with the extremest rarity that the 
proprietor of a serf ever struck a servant, male or fe- 
male. If the domestic was exceptionally troublesortie, 
he or she was " sent to the police " with a missive, 
politely requesting the police master to give the bearer 
so many lashes with the rod, or with the pleit or whip, 
— ^just as in " Uncle Tom's Cabin " the widowed Marie 
St. Clair sends her quadroon slave, Rosa, to the barra- 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 29I 



coon to be whipped by a professional scourger. I 
remember, about 1865, having in London a lady aman- 
uensis — she was a daughter of Mrs. Cornwall Barron 
Wilson, a well-known minor poet, and editor of the 
Belle AssembUe — who had been a governess in a noble 
family at St. Petersburg during the Crimean War; 
and she told me that when the news of the first bom- 
bardment of Sebastopol arrived in the capital, the 
servants told such alarming stories of a miraculous 
appearance of St. Alexander Nevskoi to the Tsar 
Nicolas, and got, besides, so excessively drunk upon 
vodkuy that at least half of them were packed ofif to the 
police-station of the quarter to be thrashed into reason 
and sobriety. I heard, in 1856, a very shocking story 
of a French milliner in business at Moscow, who, hav- 
ing a spite against one of her work-girls, who was a 
serf whom she had hired, sent the poor creature to the 
police-station, where she was cruelly flogged ; but this 
incident I have narrated in some detail in my " Jour- 
ney Due North." As for the knout, that torture was, 
not long after my departure, formally abolished by 
decree of the Tsar Alexander; although, according to 
some recent travellers, the horrible infliction has been 
revived at Saghalien and other Russian convict settle- 
ments. 

There were many more Russians than Germans 
among what I may term the "day-boarders" at the 
Hotel Heyde. Most of the sleeping apartments were 
occupied by German commercial travellers and super- 
cargoes who had run up from Cronstadt; but they 
were swamped at the table cThSte and in the billiard- 
room by a multitude of Russian military officers and 
employes in the many Government offices at Vacili 
Ostrov. Now, a Tchinovnik^ or Russian civil servant, 
wears a uniform, and has an approximately military 
rank, as British army surgeons now have. Thus our 



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292 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

dinner-table presented every evening the aspect of 
a military mess on an amazingly large scale. The 
warriors were not "swells" — they belonged to the 
Line, not to the Guards ; and though all of them spoke 
German, comparatively few of their number could 
converse in French. They were all, however, very 
polite to me ; although I spoke German, as I speak it 
now, execrably. Among the company at Heyde's, I 
recall to mind a stout, clean-shaven, grey-headed old 
gentleman, who wore gold-rimmed spectacles, and who 
fulfilled the important functions of one of the censors 
of the foreign Press. He had never, so 1 understood, 
crossed the frontier of his native country ; but he spoke 
English and French capitally : the last with the purest 
of accents. We grew quite intimate ; and he kindly 
explained his methods of obliterating what he consid- 
ered to be objectionable passages in the non-Russian 
newspapers which came under his purview. 

He employed for this purpose two processes ; one 
was rubbing out, and another was blocking out the 
parlous matter. In cases where the paper — say the 
Times or the Saturday Review — was of stout quality, 
he merely erased the offending lines by means of gen- 
tle friction with an agate stylus, or a dog's-tooth set in 
a holder, and a little water ; but when the paper was 
comparatively thin, as in the instance of the foreign 
editions of the illustrated papers, the censor blocked 
out the condemned matter by repeated dabs with a 
stamp endued with printer's ink. Of course he only 
made the obliterations as patterns, which were to be 
followed by his subordinates. I remember his show- 
ing me a copy of the Illustrated London News, con- 
taining an engraving of a party of Russian soldiers, 
wrapped in their great -coats, crouching round a 
bivouac fire, and chanting one of their plaintive na- 
tional songs. Of the six lines of explanatory letter- 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 293 

press at the foot of the picture, four were blocked out. 
It is extremely droll to read, as I have recently done, 
that in the reading-room of at least one provincial Free 
Library the Russian blocking-out system has been ap- 
plied to the Sporting Intelligence in the newspapers 
supplied ; lest, so I suppose, the morals of the readers 
should be irretrievably ruined by learning the state of 
the odds with regard to Brother to Cauliflower, or that 
Dartmoor had been scratched for the Newgate Cup. 

I only remained four days at the Hotel Heyde. I 
did not know a single soul in St. Petersburg. No 
British Ambassador had as yet been accredited to the 
Court of Russia ; but among my very few letters of 
introduction was one that Robert Brough had given 
me to an American lady named Ward, who, with her 
grown-up son and daughter, were living at a French 
pension, the Maison Martins, in the Nevskoi Perspek- 
tive — the Regent Street of St. Petersburg — ^as the Bol- 
schoi Morskaia is its Pall Mall. I duly called, the day 
after my arrival, on Mrs. Ward, and was most cour- 
teously received by her and her family. Next day 
young Mr. Ward returned my visit. I regret to say 
that he did not at all approve of the Hotel Heyde, 
which, in fact, he characterised as " a confounded 
hole," and very dear — which I am afraid it was — ^add- 
ing, that I should do much better by coming over to 
the other side of the Neva, and becoming z. pensionnain 
at a stipulated monthly fare, at the Maison Martius, 
where he assured me that there was an excellent cuU 
sine — exclusively French, and "no beastly Russian 
messes " — scrupulously clean accommodation, and 
" lots of fun " into the bargain. He and his mother 
and sister, he continued, took their meals in their own 
private room ; but I should find plenty of amusement 
dt the table d'hSte, and pass the evening with his family 
when I felt so inclined. 



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294 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

So I went over the water to the Maison Martius. 
The tariff, for what was then the most expensive city 
in the world, was pleasingly moderate. I do not think 
that, for board and lodging, and a sufficiency of sound 
French vin ordinaire^ I paid more than £i6 2l month, 
and my allowance per mensem from Household Words 
being £^o, I had plenty of money to spare for amuse- 
ments and dress. Looking at how desperately pov- 
erty-stricken I had usually been for the preceding six 
years — poverty simply due to the circumstance that 
I generally spent my money immediately I got it — I 
deemed myself, with an income of five hundred a year, 
a counterpart of the Fortunate Youth. In reality I 
was luckier than he ; seeing that the so-called Fort> 
unate Youth, who enjoyed some brief notorieties in the 
early 'twenties, was an impudent liar and impostor, 
without a shilling of his own in the world. 

A droller table d'kSte than that at the Maison Mar- 
tius I never saw. We used to sit down, some twenty 
in number, to the dejeuner h la fourchette and to din- 
ner ; and with one exception — myself — the company 
were all French ; and none of them knew a word of 
English. Two of the boarders were, although of 
French extraction, Russian subjects. They were hus- 
band and wife — Monsieur, short and plump, about 
seventy ; Madame, tall and osseous, perhaps a year or 
two younger. They had invaded Russia with Napo- 
leon's Grand Army in 1812, had seen the burning of 
Moscow, had been taken prisoners at the Beresina, 
and after a brief sojourn in Siberia, to which inhospit- 
able region the Tsar Alexander L despatched his 
French captives, had chosen, at the Peace of 18 14, to 
remain in Russia, which they had never since left. 
They had a modest competence ; he as a teacher of 
his own language and of drawing ; she as a milliner. 
They seemed perfectly happy. They read the French 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 295 

papers regularly ; went to the French Theatre ; touched 
nothing but French dishes, and in the evening played 
at loto or bezique. Why should they have troubled 
themselves about returning to their own land, where 
most of their kindred, and all the friends of their 
youth were dead? They had no politics beyond a 
blind adoration of all the Napoleons ; and I question 
whether, in 1856, they knew much more of the Rus- 
sian language than they had done in 18 14. That last 
is the case with hundreds upon hundreds of French 
people settled in St. Petersburg. They bring their 
Paris with them, as it were ; set up a little Lutetia of 
their own on the banks of the Neva ; pick up just 
enough colloquial Russ to direct their workpeople and 
scold their servants, and are content. Very few of 
them can write the Russian character or read a Rus- 
sian newspaper, even after many years' residence in 
the country. Why should they ? Have they not the 
Gazette de St. Petersbourg in French ? 

Deeply interested as I have ever been in all things 
touching the Napoleonic legend, I could not help con- 
tinually pestering this antique Benedick and Beatrix 
for anecdotes relating to the campaign of 1812;* but it 
was only the scantiest information that I could obtain 
from them. It was so long ago, they pleaded, and 
they had forgotten so much. They had been, how- 
ever, in the train of the Grande Arm6e. They remem- 
bered Marshal Ney as a very choleric warrior, who 
swore fearfully. They recollected Murat, King of 
Naples. Yes; he ^/wfwear his hair in long ringlets; 
and when he charged at the head of his cavalry, the 
Cossacks used to cheer him — " Hourra, Moura ! " 
They knew him to be a foeman worthy of their steel. 
" And he never killed a man," the old lady used to 
say, taking an ample pinch of snuflF. " He never even 
drew his sword in action. He only waved a light 



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296 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

riding switch." Had they ever seen the emperor? 
Yes; the husband had — but where was the use of 
telling me about him? Everybody knew all about 
his grey great coat, his little cocked hat, and his 
white Arab charger, with the housings of crimson and 
gold. 

Monsieur was frankly communicative as to the share 
which he had taken in the campaign. He was a ser- 
geant when he crossed the frontier ; won his lieuten- 
ant's epaulets at the Moskova, and was promoted to a 
captaincy the day before he was taken prisoner. And 
Madame ? She was quite as explicit, although rather 
mysteriously so. " I was not an officer's wife," she re- 
marked, " but I was at the Beresina. Perhaps Mon- 
sieur thinks that I was a cantini^rey or a regimental 
washerwoman. Not so, j'^tais justentent caporal de 
hussardsy She went on to tell me that in the great war 
between 1793 and 1814, the number of counterparts, 
in the French army, of our Phoebe Hessells and Han- 
nah Snells had been surprisingly numerous. Sheer 
self-devotion impelled hundreds of girls to substitute 
themselves for their sweethearts who had been drawn 
for the conscriptions ; while others voluntarily en- 
listed through a spirit of sheer daredevilry and love 
of adventure. When, as sometimes, but not very 
often, happened, their sex was discovered, they were 
invariably treated with chivalrous respect, both by 
officers and privates. Many of these Amazons had 
gained the cross of the Legion of Honour on the field 
of battle ; and, on retiring from active service, they 
usually married non-commissioned officers. By the 
way, the real Madame Sans-G6ne was not the washer- 
woman who afterwards became the wife of Marshal 
Lefgvre, Duke of Dantzic. She was a farmer's daugh- 
ter called Th^r^se Levigueur, or some such name ; and 
early in the Revolution enlisted, with her uncle^ in a 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 297 

regiment of Dragoons. As in the time of the Fronde, 
it was pre-eminently an epoch for Us femmes fortes. 

But you may have been asking where and how the 
lots of fun which 1 was promised came in at the 
Maison Martins. I will explain. The comic element 
was contributed by the theatrical guests at the table 
(f/tSte. These were all members of or connected with 
the company at the French Theatre at St. Petersburg. 
There were " leading ladies," and ing^nues^ p^res nobles^ 
jeunes premierSy low comedians, soubrettes and singing 
chambermaids ; young ladies whose specialty was 
" breeches parts," and " heavy old men." We had a 
leader of the orchestra, and a famous soloist on the 
cornet-k-piston, who had made the tour of the world, 
and had acquired a large fortune. We had the ac- 
tresses* mothers, who were even droller than their off 
spring. The noise, the babble and scandal, the merry 
farces and blagtieSy the tittle-tattle of the coulisses I It 
was entrancing, it was matchless ; and it would have 
been inimitable had it not been destined to be pictured 
long years afterwards in words in the less offensive 
episodes of M. Emile Zola's splendid and abominable 
novel " Nana." The comidiennes sometimes fell out 
with the comidiens, and the old Frenchwomen fre- 
quently squabbled among themselves — usually on a 
question of ten kopecks over the nocturnal bezique or 
loto ; but, on the whole, we were a very harmonious 
gathering, and got on capitally. 

After about a week or so I began to think that I 
had heard all the stories and exhausted most of 
the humours of the table d'hdte ; and I should have 
moved to some other place of residence ; but, to my 
great gratification, Mrs. Ward proposed that I should 
in future lunch and dine in her rooms. This arrange- 
ment suited me admirably. I was beginning to learn 
Russian, and I knew that my American friends had 



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298 LIFE OF GBORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

numerous acquaintances among the upper classes in 
St. Petersburg. Again, the change of venue enabled 
me to lead that which I have always held to be the 
most delightful of lives — a polyglot one. Of course, 
we talked English — although far from invariably; 
but Mrs. Ward's only daughter was being trained in 
operatic singing ; and her professor in the art was an 
Italian named Rubini, a near relation of the famous 
tenor to whom I had so often listened, with rapture, 
in my boyhood. I was usually present at her lessons, 
and the conversation during at least six hours in 
every day was mainly in Italian. The Christian name 
of Mrs. Ward's daughter was Genevieve. She was 
very young, and beautiful ; and a few months before I 
had the honour to meet her, she had married, at Nice, 
a Russian nobleman. Count Constantine de Guerbel, 
a son of General Count de Guerbel, one of the aides- 
de-camp of the Tsar Nicolas. The life of the gifted 
and accomplished lady of whom I am speaking has 
been one long romance ; but publicity has long since 
been given to its most dramatic episodes; and it is 
unnecessary that I should dwell upon it in detail here, 
save so far as it relates to my own life and advent- 
ures. 

Now as regards our Russian acquaintances. When 
Mrs. Ward and her family first arrived at St. Peters- 
burg, they went to stay with the Hon. Mr. Seymour — 
usually known in the United States of America as 
" Governor " Seymour, from his having been governor 
of the State of New York, who, in 1856, was American 
Minister to Russia. After a while, Mrs. Ward left the 
handsome habitat of the Legation for apartments at the 
Maison Martins, but we very often saw his Excel- 
lency ; and scarcely a day passed without our receiving 
a visit from Colonel Pearce, or Pierce, the Secretary 
of Legation. I say " we," because Mrs. Ward was so 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 299 

kind as to present me to the Minister ; and one of the 
first invitations which I received during my stay in 
Petropolis, was one to a ball at the American Lega- 
tion. It was a very grand aflfair. About half of the 
guests were either Russian nobles of high rank and 
their ladies; while the others were mostly members 
of the corps diplomatique, and officers of the Imperial 
Guard. These warriors were all in uniform, and the 
diplomatists and court functionaries, although in even- 
ing dress, were profusely adorned with ribbons, col- 
lars, stars, and crosses. 

A great many years had elapsed since, as a round- 
headed little boy at my mother's knee, I had seen any- 
thing of the patrician, or even the fashionable, world, 
and I confess that, in a tail coat and continuations 
which had evidently not been made by Poole, and 
without so much as a temperance medal at my button- 
hole, I felt somewhat nervous, not to say terrified, in 
the midst of all these epaulets and aiguillettes ; these 
stars, and ribbons, and crosses, to say nothing of the 
diamonds, and pearls, and rubies, and emeralds of the 
ladies. I have long since got over my nervousness in 
such matters ; but the ball at Governor Seymour's was 
to me a new revelation. I was soon reassured, how- 
ever, when I noticed the so entirely democratic cos- 
tume assumed by the Minister and by Major Pearce — 
black "claw-hammer" coat, vest, and trousers to 
match. Of course, I did not dance. I should as soon 
have thought of standing on my head ; and, curioufe 
to relate, although I was carefully trained in drawing- 
room dancing in my youth, I have never once since 
adolescence ventured on any kind of exercitation on 
that which is conventionally known as the light fan- 
tastic toe ; but which, in many cases, might be much 
more appropriately designated the heavy realistic 
hoof. 



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300 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

The ball-rooin of the Legation was spacious ; but it 
was overcrowded, and excessively hot. The friendly 
Major Pearce whispered to me that there was a 
smoking-room, and pointed out the way to it ; and I 
found myself in another large apartment, even hotter 
than the ball-room, since it was thronged with gentle- 
men, nearly all officers of the Guard, who were smok- 
ing like so many Sheffield factory chimneys. Not, 
when the first fit of coughing was over, that I quar- 
relled with the smoking ; since the big cigars that 
were being puffed were chiefly Regalias Imperiales of 
the choicest Havana brands. To my mind, there are 
only at present three cities in Europe where you can 
obtain a thoroughly good Havana cigar. These cities 
are — London, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. There is, 
to be sure, a dep6t for real Havanas in Paris, next 
door to the Grand Hotel. The " weeds " are genuine 
enough, being directly imported by the French Gov- 
ernment ; but they are badly selected, badly kept, and 
are, as a rule, much too moist. In Italy, again, there 
is, in such great towns as Rome, Naples, Florence, 
Venice, Milan, and Turin a " Regia di Tabacchi," 
where, at a fairly moderate price, real Havana cigars 
are obtainable; but their quality can never be de- 
pended upon. I strongly suspect that the ill-paid em- 
ployes not unfrequently palm oflF on inexperienced cus- 
tomers the products of Bremen or Hamburg, instead 
of that of the Vuelta Abajo. 

I used, when I was first in St. Petersburg, to buy 
my cigars from a tobacconist named Ton Katt, who 
kept an old-fashioned shop, with two bay-windows, on 
the Nevskoi, close to the Polizei Most, or Police 
Bridge. He told me that he was the lineal descendant 
of a Dutchman, who had been tobacconist to Peter the 
Great, during that monarch's stay in Holland, and that 
it was at the instigation of Peter Velikfe himself that 



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MY FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH" 3OI 

he had emigrated to Russia and set up in business at 
St. Petersburg. Naturally, the original Ton Katt only 
sold tobacco for pipe smoking, and snuff. I think he 
told me that cigars were not known in Russia until 
the end of the first decade of the present century. 
Still had the gallant warriors of the Chevalier and the 
Probavinski Guards been smoking the coarsest cafioral, 
I would not have minded it. For the first time in my 
life I found myself face to face with the most interest- 
ing — sometimes repellent— compound of savagery and 
civilisation — ^the Russian Boyard. He has lost that 
specific designation these many years past. At pres- 
ent he is a Gospodin, a Lord, an Excellency, un noble 
Russe; but paint, and veneer, and lacquer, and scent 
him as you will ; dress him up in a laced coat ; give 
him a whole constellation of stars and crosses ; cover 
him with a cocked hat, a helmet, or a Gibus ; let him 
wear patent leather boots and white kid gloves — he is 
still, physically and intellectually, in his essence, of the 
self-same nature of one of those Boyards whom Peter 
forced to cut off their long beards, and replace their 
furred and embroidered caftans by square-skirted 
coats, silk stockings, buckled shoes, three-cornered 
hats, and flowing periwigs. 

The Russian Boyard no longer hangs up his wife by 
the hair of her head, as seventeenth century travellers 
in Muscovy tell us that he used to do; and having 
whipped her raw from the nape of the neck to the 
heels, makes her put on a chemise soaked in brandy, 
and then sets her on fire. Such barbarity takes far dif- 
ferent forms in these days ; but scratch the noble Rus- 
sian as he is, and no inconsiderable amount of the 
savage, as well as the Tartar, will be found beneath his 
moral epidermis. Hear what Russians themselves 
have to say of the vices which officers who have served 
in Central Asia bring back with them. I heard once 



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302 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

of a certain English Duke, who told a relative that he 
knew only three things that were worth living for — 
eating, drinking, and money ; but there is a fourth con- 
stituent in the life-course of the typical Russian noble. 
When he has become satiated with wine, and women, 
and gambling, he usually turns extremely devout, and 
passes most of his time on his knees, burning wax 
tapers before an " ikon '* of the Virgin. 

For the rest he has his good qualities, this Muscovite 
Gospodin. He is brave, he is generous, he is often 
affectionate, and Ke loves art in every form. Many 
of these redeeming traits he shares with his former 
villein, and shock-headed, tawny-bearded moujik, Ivan 
Ivanovich. I remember an English diplomatist telling 
me once that when he was appointed Ambassador to 
the court of Russia, he paid a visit while passing 
through Berlin, on his way to St. Petersburg, to Prince 
Bismarck, who at one period had been Prussian Min- 
ister there, and asked him for his candid opinion of the 
Russian character. The then Chancellor mused for a 
few moments, and then made this oracular deliverance : 
" The Russian, your Excellency, is a very good fellow, 
till he tucks his shirt in.'' None but those who have been 
again and again in Russia, and have carefully studied 
the manners of all classes there, can fully appreciate 
the pregnant sagacity of the Bismarckian observation. 

Ivan Ivanovich, the moujik, wears his red cotton 
shirt above, instead of under, his baggy galligaskins. 
He is in many respects a capital fellow. He is cou- 
rageous, cheerful, industrious, and faithful ; and his 
shortcomings do not go much beyond a normal ten- 
dency to get tipsy whenever he can procure sufficient 
vodka for the purpose, and an occasional tendency to 
thrash his wife black and blue. But when Ivan's big 
beard is shaved off and his shock-head is trimmed and 
oiled and perfumed ; when he drinks Veuve Clicquot 



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MV FIRST "JOURNEY DUE NORTH*' 303 



instead of corn-brandy, and eats stuffed turkey and pdti 
de fote gras insttzd of rye-bread and salted gherkins; 
wAen he tucks his shirt in and wears a showy uniform or 
faultless evening dress, then in most cases his moral 
character sadly deteriorates, and his varnish of refine- 
ment is only a thin covering to mendacity and profli- 
gacy, and cruelty. 

That ball at the American Legation was the pre- 
cursor of many entertainments as amusing and inter- 
esting ; and, besides, Mrs. Ward used to receive a con- 
stant flow of Russian ladies and gentlemen. Among 
the latter I remember cadets of the ficole des Pages, 
or Imperial Pages ; and in particular, among the offi- 
cers of the Guards I recall a tall young gentleman who 
bore the remarkable name of Ginghis Khan, and who 
was a lineal descendant of that conqueror. He was a 
captain in the Circassian Regiment of the Guards ; and 
I saw him once at a review arrayed in full Circassian 
panoply — z, silver-adorned casque, high boots, white 
kid gloves, and a coat of mail. Another frequent visitor 
at Mrs. Ward's was a distinguished professor of the 
University of St. Petersburg. What his name was 
does not signify, but I am tolerably sure that it ended 
in " off." Natural history was his forte. He drew with 
singular elegance and accuracy, and contributed to 
Madame de Guerbel's album quite a museum of coun- 
terfeit presentments of wild animals, fishes, and reptiles. 
Mrs. Ward was herself an admirable copyist in oil of 
the Old Masters; and when her daughter had any 
leisure from her singing lessons, she also drew and 
painted ; while I took up my pencil once more and exe- 
cuted numerous water-colour drawings — extremely 
vile, I daresay they were — recalling operatic and 
dramatic souvenirs of the past. As for the distin- 
guished professor, I heard of him only once after I left 
Russia. He was attached in a scientific capacity to 



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304 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

some military expedition in Russian- Asia ; and had a 
rather unpleasantly lively time among hostile hill 
tribes ; at least so one was justified in inferring from a 
passage in the report which he transmitted to the 
Government at St. Petersburg. " Being attached by 
the right wrist to the saddle-bow of a native chief 
mounted on a native pony, rapidly galloping over 
rocky ground ; with my left ankle sprained, a large flap 
of skin detached from my forehead, by a blow from a 
hanjaTy hanging over one eye; my spectacles smashed, 
and my note-books lost, I was temporarily unable to 
make those minute observations of Xh^ fauna ^xA flora 
of the region which I had been instructed to furnish." 

So with music, painting, and drawing, and the 
brightest of converse in French and Italian, that 
which to me was a halcyon summer ran its golden 
course. The weather was tropically hot, and one had 
to keep indoors nearly all day ; but the nights — they 
did not become quite dark until nearly midnight, and 
then the sun seemed to " dip " rather than set— were 
deliciously cool and refreshing. It was a joy to be 
rowed in a gaily canopied barque, something of the 
form of a Venetian gondola, on the broad blue bosom 
of the Neva ; and a score of years afterwards, when 
I saw Luke Fildes's noble picture of " Fair Quiet and 
Sweet Rest,** the nocturnal water parties on the Neva 
came back to me, mellowed, indeed, by the sober 
touch of time, but without one trace of sadness. 

I did not go to the coronation of the Tsar Alex- 
ander 11. Had I done so I should have met my friend 
and colleague Sutherland Edwards, who had been 
despatched to Russia by Vizetelly as special corre- 
spondent of the Illustrated Times ; but I had not the 
means of " doing " the great pageant myself. The 
cost of living at Moscow during the festivities was 
enormous. I had no status as a member of the Press. 



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MY FIRST " JOURNEY DUE NORTH " SOJ 

Honestly speaking, I scarcely considered myself to be 
a journalist at all ; and I should not have been able to 
attain admission to the Kremlin on the momentous 
day. By this time I had drawn my last instalment of 
credit from the house of Stieglitz; and I had just 
enough money to bring me home, or rather within a 
certain distance from home, comfortably. I little 
thought, nevertheless, when I turned my back on 
Petropolis, not a little disappointed that I could not 
afford the journey to Moscow, that two-and-twenty 
years afterwards 1 should traverse European Russia 
from the Baltic to the shores of the Black Sea ; that I 
was afterwards to see the murdered Tsar Alexander II. 
lying dead in his coffin, and subsequently witness the 
coronation of his son Alexander III. 

I bade a cheery farewell to my friends the Wards — 
they had not, by the way, the remotest idea as to my 
profession, if profession it could be called, or of the 
errand which had brought me to London — and took 
steamer at Cronstadt for Flensburg in Schleswig Hol- 
stein. It was gloomy autumn weather. In due time 
I reached Hamburg; and so pushed on to Brussels, 
where I had resolved to remain for several weeks 
pouring out for Household Words the somewhat copi- 
ous store of information which, since April, I had 
gathered about Russia and the Russians. 

As it chanced, at Brussels I met Robert Brough, 
who, w^ith his wife and his little daughter Fanny — now 
an excellent and deservedly popular actress — was tem- 
porarily domiciled in the pleasant suburb of St. Josse- 
ten-Noode, where he was writing farces, and contrib- 
uting a weekly column of gossip about things in 
general to the London Sunday Times, I worked very 
hard — I should say for full seven weeks — at my Rus- 
sian experiences, which Dickens elected to call ** A 
Journey Due North," although everybody knows that 

20 



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306 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

St. Petersburg is not by any means due north of Lon- 
don Bridge Terminus. But the title was catching, 
and the opening chapters were liked by the Conductor 
of Household Words and by the public. Robert Brough 
used to take them in the evening to his wife, as they ap- 
peared week after week ; and my brother Charles wrote 
me from Brighton that my mother — who, although only 
sixty.five, was growing painfully feeble — highly ap- 
proved of them. So we were all very happy, and I, 
perhaps, the happiest, notwithstanding what the Italians 
humorously call una mancanza assoluta di quattrini. My 
money was almost entirely exhausted; and I was grimly 
resolved not to write to Dickens for another penny 
until I had accomplished a certain amount of labour. 

I was so comically short of cash that at the begin- 
ning of each week I used to lay in a stock of bread, 
sufficient to last one for four days — it grew too stale to 
be eatable on the fifth — and this, with a slice of Dutch 
cheese, a few sausages, with a cold hard-boiled ^^^ 
every morning, completed my commissariat. I could 
get cigars at a halfpenny apiece ; and besides, in those 
days, pipe tobacco in Belgium was ridiculously cheap. 
That is still the case, I believe. I was never much of 
a smuggler. You cannot smuggle anything without 
feeling a good deal of anxiety, and anxiety is precisely 
the thing which people with a nervous temperament 
should strive their utmost to avoid ; still, I never come 
nowadays without a box of right Cabafta§. Hitherto I 
have got my weeds safely through the Belgium Cus- 
tom House. But to return to the question of the pro- 
vanda. The Belgian beer, known as faro, looked bright 
enough, but I found it so hideously sour that I could 
not drink it. Wine was altogether beyond my means ; 
but milk was cheap and good, and I was always safe, 
at Brough's, for tea or coffee in the evening, and for a 
glass of something stronger later on. 



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CHAPTER XXVII 

A MISUNDERSTANDING WITH DICKENS 

My own domicile was a little bit of a bedroom, four 
stories high, in a narrow street behind the Town Hall. 
My landlady was the worthiest of Belgian blanchisse- 
uses de fin^ who spoke much more Flemish than she did 
French, and to whom I covenanted, on my first com- 
ing, to pay a month's rent in advance. That prelimin- 
ary disbursement — ^the rent was only five francs a week 
— gave me infinite serenity of mind. No man, whose 
pursuits are intellectual or artistic, can be happy if he 
be in arrear with his rent. 

In the middle of November I returned to London. 
I had produced a good deal more manuscript than I 
thought would flow from my pen, during a given 
period; and I thus felt justified in writing to Mn 
Wills for a ten pound note to pay my expenses home ; 
and this enabled me to pay my fare by Lille and Calais 
to London, to buy a few books and prints in Brussels, 
and to arrive at London Bridge with a couple of sov- 
ereigns in my pocket. On the evening of my arrival I 
went, first of all, to see Edmund Yates and his charm- 
ing wife, in Doughty Street ; and the next morning I 
went down to Brighton to my mother and my brother 
Charles. Returning to town in a day or two, I went 
to Household Words office, to see Mr. Wills, who, to my 
great joy, told me that the " Journey Due North " was 
a distinct success, and a day or two afterwards Dickens 
asked me to dinner at Tavistock House. I also dined 
with Thackeray, in Onslow Square. Both these great 



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308 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

writers urged me to lose no time in negotiating for the 
republication of the " Journey " in book form. Now, 
although there are not many things of which I am 
afraid, and I have confronted danger in a hundred 
forms all over the world during the last forty years, I 
have always been the timidest and most irresolute of 
mankind in my transactions with publishers. I keep 
my books accurately ; I pay my way, but I have 
scarcely ever been successful in my dealings with the 
commercial descendants of Bernard Lintot and Jacob 
Tonson. I have written some two-score books; and 
had I been gifted with an ordinary business faculty of 
this kind I should be by this time a wealthy man, since 
only a part of my life has been devoted to literature ; 
and for the last thirty years, by dint of unremitting in- 
dustry, I have derived an ample income from daily 
journalism — an income which has never been reckoned 
in less than four figures. It is only since the beginning 
of the present year that I have had the advantage of 
the assistance of a thoroughly intelligent and trust- 
worthy agent, Mr. A. P. Watt, of Norfolk Street, who 
has successfully carried out on my behalf financial ar- 
rangements with publishers over which I should my- 
self have hopelessly broken down. 

I had just common sense enough, in 1856, to be 
aware that if I personally tried to sell the copyright 
of the " Journey Due North " I should make a lament- 
able mess of the entire affair. So I wrote to my brother 
Charles to come up to town to pull through the busi- 
ness, if he could. It happened that when he was a 
clerk in the Tithes Commissioners office at Somerset 
House he had had for a fellow-employ 6 a certain Mr. 
George Routledge, who afterwards went into business 
in Soho Square as a seller of cheap books. In fact, the 
late Mr. Routledge, whose intelligence, shrewdness, 
and probity placed him on a par with the late Mr. 



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A MISUNDERSTANDING WITH DICKENS 309 

W. H. Smith, was practically the inventor of the shil- 
ling book, of which so many millions have been sold 
during the last three decades. In 1856 the firm had 
become Wame and Routledge, and had its offices in 
Farringdon Street, E.G., close to, if not actually on 
part of, the site of the old Fleet Prison. Charles called 
on Mr. George Routledge, renewed his old acquaint- 
ance with his quondam fellow-clerk ; and the very next 
day he told me that the firm had agreed to purchase 
the " Journey Due North" for the sum of ;^25o. 

Two hundred and fifty pounds ! It was a fortune ; 
it was a Pactolus suddenly promising to roll through 
the normally unsavoury channel of the Fleet Ditch. 
Two hundred and fifty pounds! I had never set hands 
on such a lump sum since the days of my all too brief 
grandeur and decadence in 1850. But now I thought 
I must be prudent, even to wariness. No more bandana 
pocket-handkerchiefs. No more starting of magazines, 
Conservative, Liberal, or Radical. No more expedi- 
tions to the Continent, to break the bank at Aix-la- 
Chapelle. Alnaschar ! Alnaschar ! What had I in my 
basket ? I quarrelled with Dickens. When, fourteen 
years afterwards, he died, I wrote a notice of him 
in the Daily Telegraph; and shortly afterwards this 
notice, considerably expanded, was republished by 
Messrs. George Routledge and Sons, of the Broad- 
way, Ludgate Hill. It was a shilling pamphlet, which 
had an immense sale, and it is now — so the booksellers* 
catalogues tell me — scarce, and somewhat costly. Now 
in this pamphlet I made a passing allusion to my mis- 
understanding with Dickens early in 1857, and, moved 
by I hope not ungenerous impulse, I added that in this 
feud I had been in the wrong. 

I revered the writer and I loved the man. But at a 
time when the grave had scarcely closed over him I 
disdained to say that he had been as much in the wrong 



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3IO LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

as I. A spiteful (and, of course, anonymous) critic in 
an evening paper, for which I have too much contempt 
to name it, went out of his shambling way, while pro- 
fessing to review a work of mine called " Things I Have 
Seen and People I Have Met," to say that Dickens was 
very kind to me, and that it was at his expense that I 
went to Russia, Charles Dickens was kind to many 
more youthful authors besides myself ; and he was for 
five years exceptionally kind to me, for the reason that 
he had known me in my early youth. But, confound 
it ! I gave him malt for his meal. In the course of these 
five years I wrote nearly three hundred articles for 
Household Words; and I was such a dullard, so mala- 
droit, so blind to my own interest, that between 1851 
and my return from St. Petersburg, I never sought his 
permission to republish one of those papers. As to the 
statement of the spiteful critic, that I went to Russia at 
Dickens's expense, there is in it a suppression of truth 
which is more than a suggestion of falsehood. In the 
last letter which he wrote me before he went away, he 
said, " You shall have the means of travelling in com- 
fort and respectability." I drew a certain sum to de- 
fray my expenses to St. Petersburg ; and there I found, 
at Messrs. Stieglitz's, a monthly credit of £^. In all, 
between April and November, I received the sum of 
;£'240, eight-tenths of which I spent in subsistence and 
travelling outlay ; and I landed in England, as I have 
said, with £2 in my pocket. It logically follows that 
if I went to Russia at Dickens's expense I wrote the 
" Journey Due North " entirely at my own. 

Where I was to blame in the matter was as follows. 
About half-andozen papers remained to be written to 
complete the plan of my " Journey." I was dissatisfied 
with what I considered to be the ungenerous treatment 
which I had received. I found that I could earn at 
least jCio a week by working for Henry Vizetelly, and 



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A MISUNDERSTANDING WITH DICKENS 31I 

the delivery of the last half-dozen chapters of the 
" Journey ** hung fire. Then came a coolness between 
myself and Mr. Wills, and then an open rupture. I 
demanded payment for my travelling expenses; and 
I was referred to one Mr. Smith, a solicitor, in Golden 
Square, who informed me that I had received the sum 
of ;f 240, as aforesaid, as full remuneration for my ser- 
vices ; that I owed the proprietors of Household Words 
nothing, and that they owed me nothing. But now I 
came to the cruellest part of the business. I asked 
Dickens's permission to republish the " Journey Due 
North " and the other essays which I had contributed 
to Household Words. That permission — ^although he 
had already advised me to haste and republish — he 
positively refused to grant. So away into the darkest 
of nonentities went the ;£'2So which Messrs. Routledge, 
Warne and Routledge were to pay me. 

It appeared that, as the law of copyright then stood, 
I had absolutely no remedy. I was too poor to pay for 
counsel's opinion ; but my friend " Billy " Hale, the son 
of Archdeacon Hale, sometime Master of the Chapter 
House, put my miserable little case before Mr. Henry 
(now Sir Henry) James, then a young, but rising bar- 
rister, who kindly sent me word that the proprietor of 
a periodical had the power of putting an embargo on 
the republication of contributions, unless a special 
agreement to the contrary had been made. I might, 
perhaps, have fought the matter, since Dickens knew 
perfectly well that I was in treaty with Routledge, 
Warne and Routledge. But I was indignant and mor- 
tified to the stage of disgust, and so gave the whole 
thing up. 

The worst of it was that I was regarded by my fellow- 
members at the Savage Club as an unmitigated young 
bore. I was too full of Russia. They did not want to 
hear, morning, noon, and night, about the Nevskoi 



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312 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Perspektive and the Bolschoi Morskaia. They were 
not interested in the Gostennoi Drov, and did not care 
twopence about Captain Ginghis Khan, of the Cir- 
cassians of the Guard, or Ivan Ivanovich the mouj'ik. 
My Russian trip did, indeed, bring me one rather bright 
promise of patronage. Mr. Cheyne Brady, son of the 
then Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and editor of the 
Dublin University Magazine^ wrote to ask if I would 
write for that periodical a series of papers, to be called 
" The Streets of the World ; " and I foolishly promised 
to do so ; but ere long I discovered that I was wholly 
incompetent to perform the task, and so gave it up. 
What did I know of the streets of the world in 1857? 
I had just wandered about London, and Paris, and 
Brighton. I had had a glimpse of Berlin, and a peep 
at Copenhagen, but the remainder of the thoroughfares 
of the world's cities were most unknown to me. Time 
hath its revenges, and mine came in the matter of the 
" Journey Due North," and my other embargoed ar- 
ticles in Household Words, swiftly and comically enough. 
Perhaps I err in calling it a revenge at all, for I never 
was vindictive ; I loved and admired Dickens with all 
my heart; and at this distance of time I feel convinced 
that having had no experience of the special corre- 
spondent, who in 1857 was almost a novel personage, he 
failed to see that I had any claim to travelling expenses. 
I had charged him none when I sent him repeatedly 
articles from Paris, from the North of England, and 
from Ireland. Why should I be paid, so he may have 
reasoned, for travelling a couple of thousand miles? 
But I must not anticipate things. 

Little by little I found out that my Russian trip, 
although it had been financially disastrous to me, had 
in other respects done me an appreciable amount of 
good. Publishers and editors began to know who I 
was and what I could do. Dr. Macaulay, whom I 



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A MISUNDERSTANDING WITH DICKENS 313 

still rejoice to number among my oldest and most 
valued friends, suggested that I should write for the 
Leisure Hour, of which he was the editor, a series of 
articles on social life in London, to be illustrated by a 
young and clever draughtsman on wood, William Mc- 
Connell. Finally, Henry Vizetelly told me that he 
would give me as much work as ever I could under- 
take on the Illustrated Times ; and encouraged me to 
write in that paper a novel called " The Haddington 
Peerage." Of course, James Hannay at once dubbed 
it " The Paddington Beerage." It was subsequently 
published in three-volume form ; and I candidly con- 
fessed in the preface that it was about the worst novel 
ever perpetrated ; and re-reading it, at Brighton, more 
than thirty years afterwards, I saw no reason to alter 
my original opinion. 

There was no plot to speak of in " The Baddington 
Peerage ; " although the incidents comprised at least 
dne murder, a duel h mort, an incendiary fire, and a 
suicide. There was no character worth mentioning 
beyond a felonious medical student and a wicked 
duchess. This lamentable romance nevertheless ob- 
tained one distinctly favourable review in the Athe- 
nceum ; and I subsequently learned that the reviewer 
was Miss Geraldine Jewsbury, the intimate friend of 
Mrs. Carlyle. The last-named lady I never saw ; yet 
sometimes, with the fatuity of an old man, I often 
please myself by fancying that she had read my early 
works, and that their perusal had led her to form an 
estimate of my capacity, communicated to me by the 
late James Lowe, editor of the Critic, who had heard 
it from her own lips : — " Butcher's boy. Cart. Pony. 
Goes on whistling. Plenty of meat." I have listened 
to some flowery things about myself in my time ; but 
I aver that 1 never derived such gratification from an 
eulogium as I did from Mrs. Carlyle's simile of the 



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314 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

butcher's boy who had plenty of meat in his cart, and 
was always whistling. 

Vizetelly sold the Illustrated Times to Mr, Herbert 
Ingram, M.P. for Boston, and proprietor of the Illus- 
trated London News; and immediately afterwards 
started a weekly illustrated periodical, called The 
Welcome Guest. It was at the outset a very brilliant 
success. The pikce de resistance was a novel called 
" Debit and Credit," a translation from the German of 
Gustav Freytag's "Soil und Haben." Then Fred- 
erick and James Greenwood wrote in collaboration a 
powerful work of fiction, entitled " Under a Cloud," 
which was illustrated by Hablot K. Browne, the facile 
and humorous artist who also illustrated my " Bad- 
dington Peerage " in the Illustrated Times, and a little 
book I once wrote, called "How I Tamed Mrs. 
Cruiser." Cruiser was the ostensibly incorrigible 
" buckjumper," which was ultimately subjugated by 
the famous American horse-tamer, Rarey ; and my 
" Mrs. Cruiser " was a lady of high spirits and mad- 
dening perversity, who was at length made quite 
meek and mild by skilfully judicious treatment on the 
part of her husband. Finally, I may mention that in 
The Welcome Guest I wrote " Twice Round the Clock ; 
or the Hours of the Day and Night in London" — 
papers which were illustrated by McConnell. The 
plan of the work — I never invented anything in my 
life — was borrowed from a little mid-eighteenth cen- 
tury book which Thackeray had lent to Dickens, who 
lent it to me. 



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CHAPTER XXVIII 

ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 

It was in 1857, but I cannot remember in what month, 
that I first began to write for the Daily Telegraph. I 
have every reason to believe that it was Edmund 
Yates who was instrumental in making me known to 
Mr. J. M. Levy, one of the proprietors of the then 
young and struggling journal, or to his eldest son, 
now Sir Edward Lawson, Bart. ; at all events, either 
one or the other happened to be struck by an anony- 
mous leader of mine in the Illustrated Times, and asked 
Edmund, as being connected with the paper, if he 
knew the name of the writer. He named me. He 
did not know where I lived — I had a chronic dislike 
to let anybody know where I lived — but mentioned 
my ordinary " house of call," which then had its habitat 
at a tavern in Catherine Street, Strand. 

Sir Edward Lawson, coming to me the other day at 
Brighton, gave me in the course of conversation a 
most humorous description of my personal appearance 
on the occasion of my first visit to the offices of the 
Daily Telegraph. He said that I had got myself up 
for the interview ; and that I was attired in a choco- 
late-coloured frock-coat, a double-breasted plaid velvet 
waistcoat, trousers of uncertain hue and much too 
short for • me, and Bllicher boots. I plead guilty to 
the chocolate frock-coat and the too brief pantaloons ; 
I acknowledge the BlUcher boots ; but I join issue 
with my old friend on the subject of the waistcoat. 
It was not of plaid or of velvet ; nor was it double- 



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'3l6 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

breasted. It was a black camlet vest, profusely em- 
broidered with beads and bugles of jet. Now, how 
on earth did I come to wear in the daytime such an 
extraordinary article of attire ? I will tell you very 
briefly. 

I had two allies, brothers, of the Hebrew persuasion, 
who were in the " reach-me-down " or second-hand 
clothes line of business, and whose shop was in the 
Strand, nearly opposite Somerset House. They were 
very worthy, obliging, warm-hearted people, and over 
and over again had they " rigged me out ** when I 
wanted to go to the opera or to a masquerade, or 
when 1 was asked out to dinner in polite society in 
London or at Brighton. When I called at the Daily 
Telegraph office I was badly off for waistcoats. I 
wanted an exceptionally smart one; and my Semitic 
allies in the Strand lent me this particular garment 
with passementerie of jet. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, young Mr. Edward Levy and his uncle, Mr. Lio- 
nel Lawson, had previously called on me at the hos- 
telry in Catherine Street, then the rendezvous of the 
Savage Club and arranged the day and hour for an in- 
terview with Mr. J. M. Levy, who edited the Daily 
Telegraph. 

At first it was only occasionally that I wrote for this 
great newspaper. One of my first leading articles was 
on the going to sea, as a midshipman, of Prince Al- 
fred, afterwards Duke of Edinburgh, and now Duke of 
Saxe Coburg and Gotha. In those early days, too, I 
remember writing a descriptive article on the funeral 
of Douglas Jerrold, and an obituary notice on Eugene 
Sue, the author of the " Mysteries of Paris ** and the 
** Wandering Jew." I think that about this time I was 
fain to relinquish the practice of wearing " reach-me- 
downs;** for Mrs. Ward and her daughter and son 
had come to London ; and I had to see them every 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 317 

day ; and frequently to accompany them to the opera 
or the play. The very day of her arrival Miss Gene- 
vieve Ward called on Mr., afterwards Sir, Julius Bene- 
dict, to whom she had a letter of introduction. Fort- 
unately for the youthful cantatrice, there was to be a 
grand concert that evening at Northumberland House, 
in the Strand ; and the maestro — Sir Julius was one of 
the kindest of souls — at once engaged her to sing at 
the duchess's concert, and for a handsome honora- 
rium. 

At another concert, too, that season did Miss Gene- 
vieve Ward sing. It was that of my mother, who for 
years past had come up from Brighton to give a con- 
cert either at Willis's or at the Hanover Square 
Rooms. Mr. Sims Reeves sang for her gratuitously ; 
Benedict conducted, likewise without fee or reward ; 
and Genevieve Ward sang the Yimstchick song, " Vot 
na pouti celo bolschoia^' the words of which I had trans- 
lated from the Russ. The song, the melody of which 
is as tuneful as that of " Wapping Old Stairs," was af- 
terwards published by Cramer, Addison and Beale ; 
but the literary adviser of the firm did not think my 
words were poetical enough ; so they were re-cast by 
clever John Oxenford, the dramatic critic of the Times. 
In the autumn the Wards went to Paris ; and in the 
winter I joined them there, writing plenty of " copy " 
for The Welcome Guest, and sending occasional leaders 
to the Daily Telegraph : my paymaster being Mr. Lio- 
nel Lawson, who had some kind of business relations 
in Paris, and occupied pleasant bachelor's quarters 
close to the Boulevard des Italiens. 

It was in 1858 that Charles Dickens had some matri- 
monial troubles ; and out of these troubles arose his 
quarrel with Bradbury and Evans, his publishers. I 
did not know at the time anything of the rights and 
wrongs of the matter. I was told all about it not long 



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3l8 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

afterwards ; and I say now, as I said after Dickens^s 
death, the secret was no affair of mine, and that so 
long as I lived it would never be revealed by me. I 
should say that beyond the members of Dickens's own 
family there are, now that Wilkie Collins and Ed- 
mund Yates are gone, scarcely any custodians of the 
secret besides myself. One of the disagreeable cir- 
cumstances springing from an altogether melancholy 
business, was the sale by auction of the copyright 
of Household Words, in which Bradbury and Evans 
held some share. I was present at the sale; and 
the property put up comprised not only Household 
Words, but also the Household Budget, a monthly com- 
pendium of news, edited by Mr. George Hogarth, 
Dickens's father-in-law. The first bid was made by 
Mr. John Maxwell, an energetic advertising agent, 
who characteristically observed that he " would give 
£<fiO for the lot." Who the other bidders were I for- 
get ; but the " lot " was eventually knocked down for 
something like £2,000 to Arthur Smith (brother of Al- 
bert) acting on Dickens's behalf. 

Shortly afterwards the great writer began the con- 
duct of a new weekly periodical on the old familiar 
lines, under the title All the Year Round, with which 
was incorporated Household Words, Bradbury and 
Evans were not to be baffled. They determined to 
bring out in direct rivalry to All the Year Round a new 
weekly journal of their own, to be called Once a Week ; 
and this venture they resolved should be illustrated by 
the very best artists of the day. I had some slight 
acquaintance with Mr. Henry Bradbury, the son of 
the senior partner in the great publishing firm in 
Whitefriars ; and he wrote to ask me if I would like to 
join the staff of the new journal. I replied that I 
should very much like to do so ; only that it would be 
as well to know on what principles the magazine was 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 319 

to be conducted. Henry Bradbury thereupon sent 
me a letter to Mr. Samuel Lucas, a conspicuous mem- 
ber of the Times staff, who had been appointed editor 
of Once a Week. He received me cordially at his 
rooms in Savile Row. We talked for a long time on 
the prospects of Once a Week; and on shaking hands at 
parting he observed : " We shall be very strong on 
science." I do not know how it was ; but before I got 
into Burlington Gardens the words which I have 
quoted began to grate on my ears. Most assuredly, 
I was never strong on science. In nearly all the " olo- 
gies " I am a profound ignoramus ; and the only " ono- 
my " that I know anything about is gastronomy. It 
is true that now and again we used to have a scien- 
tific article in Household Words. One in particular in 
185 1. It was a terribly powerful description of a seri- 
ous operation at St. George's Hospital, in which the 
operating surgeon was spoken of as " Breaking into 
the Bloody House of Life" — a magnificent paraphrase 
of Shakespeare's immortal metaphor. I thought about 
Once a Week a good many times that day ; and in the 
end I elected to let my potential editor and his science 
alone. Meanwhile, I was working very hard and earn- 
ing a good deal of money on the Daily Telegraph. The 
enterprising proprietors were doing all they possibly 
could to make the paper both a literary and a com- 
mercial success ; but to accomplish the latter was ter- 
ribly uphill work. The paper duty weighed heavily 
on journalism. I had begun by this time to speak a 
little in public, and I had the courage to address one 
evening a large public meeting convened to protest 
against the taxes on knowledge. 

Charles Knight, publisher and editor of the Penny 
Magazine and Penny Cyclopcedia^ Robert Chambers, and 
Edward Levy were among the speakers ; and as re- 
gards my own humble attempt at oratory, I pointed 



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320 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

out that the only notice that the State had ever taken 
of Charles Dickens was to sanction the prosecution of 
the proprietors of the House/iold Budget by the Inland 
Revenue authorities for an alleged violation of the 
Stamp Act I think that the prosecution broke down. 
I was a member likewise of a deputation which went 
up to Downing Street — a Conservative Government 
being in power — to interview the Prime Minister, the 
Earl of Derby, on the subject of these same paper 
duties. 

This was not the late Earl, who gave James Hannay 
his consulate, and whom I had the honour to know 
very well — perhaps he would have put me down for a 
vice-consulate, somewhere, say, at the Cruel Islands, 
had I been ambitious of such a genteel banishment — 
but the Earl, who, as Lord Stanley, was known as the 
** Rupert of Debate," who translated the " Iliad '* and 
who, in conjunction with Mr. Lear, the painter, was 
responsible for about the drollest opuscule ever put 
forth — the " Book of Nonsense." This brilliantly-tal- 
ented nobleman was the son of the zoological Earl who 
had quite a menagerie in his park at Knowsley, and 
who, when he was " s^ir owerhanded " by the gout, 
used to solace himself with a quiet little cock-fight in 
his drawing-room ; and he, again, was the son of the 
" short Zachaeus " of the peerage : the " stumpy Lord," 
who married tall and slim and clever Miss Farren, the 
actress. A wonderful race — the Stanleys of Lanca- 
shire. The Prime Minister did not precisely turn us 
out of the room, or bid the messenger accelerate our 
departure by " qiioiting us downstairs like an Edward 
Shovelboard ; " but, to employ the well-known forensic 
simile, he looked at us just as Jupiter Hostis might be 
expected to look on an assembly of black-beetles ; and 
when our talk was at an end, told us in a few scornful 
sentences that so long as he and his colleagues re- 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 321 

mained in office, there was not the remotest chance of 
the paper duty being abolished. As all men know, it 
was abolished in i860. The Lord of Knowsley had 
only made a slight mistake. Who does not make mis- 
takes — not always slight ones? The great Duke of 
Wellington strenuously opposed penny postage. Lord 
Palmerston as hotly opposed the Suez Canal. Sydney 
Smith denounced the ballot; and Lord Brougham 
gravely doubted the expediency of appointing a Pub- 
lie Prosecutor. 

As for the cheap press, what would the " Rupert of 
Debate " think could he revisit now the glimpses of 
the moon and behold the aristocratic Morning Post and 
the grave and reverend Standard transformed into 
penny papers? At the same time the horror and 
alarm confessedly felt by the ablest Conservative 
statesmen of the last generation at the prospect of a 
cheap press are quite susceptible of explanation. When 
I was a boy, the metropolis was periodically flooded 
by unstamped newspapers; and these were in char- 
acter almost invariably either violently Radical or 
openly seditious. Some, like the publications of the 
notorious Richard Carlile, were atheistical. These 
papers — obviously impudent violations of the law — 
were furtively distributed or were sold in the street by 
hawkers, lineal descendants of the old " flying station- 
ers," who were continually being pounced upon and 
haled up at the police-courts by the officers employed 
by the Inland Revenue Department. I just remember 
one of these " flying stationers." His name was Paddy 
Something ; and when he was not hawking unstamped 
newspapers, he occupied himself with the almost as 
perilous craft of billsticking; for in the days befofe 
Willing and Partington and Hill scant favour was 
shown to the industrials of the paste-pot and the 
double-crown poster ; and the hoardings before build- 
21 



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322 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

ings in course of construction usually bore the inscrip- 
tion " Bill-stickers Beware." Repeated fines and terms 
of imprisonment had not damped the ardour of Paddy 
Something. He was arraigned at Westminster Police 
Court once for the offence of pasting a huge trade- 
union " Bread or Blood " placard on the entrance gate 
of Apsley House ; and on being asked what he had to 
say for himself, made this bold reply : " Shure I stuck 
it there ; and for sixpence I'd stick one on the Juke's 
back." 

My reconciliation with Dickens was due neither to 
the interposition of mutual friends nor to the inter- 
change of explanatory correspondence. It was mainly 
due, I should say, to a certain leading article written 
by me in the Daily Telegraph; but what that leader 
was about is, at this time of day, absolutely of no im- 
portance. La vie^ writes Honor6 de Balzac, tCest pas 
possible sans de grands oublis. At all events, Dickens 
took the embargo off the " Journey Due North " and 
my remaining papers in Household Words; and the 
deadlock was at an end. This was in the summer of 
1858 ; and I enjoyed the renewed friendship of Dick- 
ens and worked for him in the columns of All the Year 
Round until his death in 1870. But it was all very well 
to find myself the possessor of the copyright of the 
" Journey Due North," It was quite another matter 
to find a publisher. The firm of Routledge did not 
see their way to renewing their fascinating offer of the 
preceding year. Besides, they were publishing Will- 
iam Howard Russell's " Diary in the Crimea," which 
was selling by thousands. After much casting about, 
I succeeded in selling the " Journey Due North " to 
Mr. Richard Bentley, the father of the present Mr. 
George Bentley, of New Burlington Street. 

It was but a very small sum that I obtained — some- 
thing under £100 — but it was agreed that I should 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 323 

receive a further sum of £70 in the event of the work 
going into a second edition. So, having corrected the 
proofs and arranged with Mr. Julian Portch — a clever 
young artist who, as correspondent of the Illustrated 
Times, had passed through the Crimean campaign — to 
make a drawing of the Nevskoi to serve as a frontis- 
piece for my "Journey," 1 thought that it might be 
permissible to enjoy a brief autumnal holiday trip ; 
and that trip I elected to make in the company of my 
friends Henry Vizetelly and Augustus Mayhew. Our 
bourne was Homburg, then the Monte Carlo of Ger- 
many, and our purpose was obviously to break the 
bank; and to carry out that ambitious scheme we 
each, in American parlance, " planked down " the sum 
of ;f 50. Vizetelly had an " infallible system " — the 
most infallible system that ever was known for win- 
ning at roulette — and we bound ourselves by a solemn 
league and covenant not to play any but this same in- 
fallible system ; which at this present writing I look 
upon as perhaps the most idiotic of the innumerable 
and imbecile systems evolved from distempered brains 
of gamblers. 

Our system had nothing to do with the numbers on 
the roulette table ; we were to break the bank by the 
following delightfully simple means. If a colour, or 
odd or even, or over or under eighteen gained twice, 
we were to bet against it ; doubling our stakes if we 
lost, and continuing to double the stakes till we won. 
We travelled to Homburg von der Hohe vid Rotter- 
dam, Cologne, the Rhine, and Frankfort, and enjoyed 
ourselves hugely. Vizetelly had no gift of tongue at 
all beyond his own. Augustus Mayhew was collo- 
quially fluent in French ; but he declined to concern 
himself with the Teutonic language, which he defined 
as " Welsh with an occasional sneeze," and my own 
German was, as it has ever since been, very bad ; but 



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324 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

we managed to get on very well in our progress 
through the Fatherland. Vizetelly indeed averred 
that it was quite possible to travel and procure all that 
one wanted by the use only of two words : " Kann 
Mann?*' Thus: Can man, wine, water, tea, museum, 
theatre, church, bed, and the rest. 

It need scarcely be said that our expedition, in a 
financial sense, was a deplorable fiasco. We did not 
break the bank at Homburg, but the bank broke us, 
not swiftly, but with playful procrastination, such as is 
used by the cat when she plays with the mouse before 
devouring it. For about a week we adhered inflexibly 
to our infallible system, and won about £700 \ then 
luck turned against us ; we were unable to continue 
the reduplication of our stakes, and in the course of 
one happy evening we lost ;^500. Then, by mutual 
consent, we let the infallible system go hang; and 
each of us played according to his own fancy. Gus 
Mayhew devoted himself to the cultivation of black 
and the douzes derniers; Vizetelly, with a cautious head, 
worked — ^yes, literally worked — from 1 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
every day at the trente-et-quarante table, and I ad- 
hered to roulette^ backing the numbers thirty-five and 
thirty-six and zero. We had varied fortunes ; on some 
nights we dreamt of thousands of pounds piled up in 
silken bags, of diamond bracelets, horses, dogs, and 
grounds, and alternate shower-baths of Heidseck's 
Dry Monopole and Jean Marie Farina's Eau de Co- 
logne. On other days we borrowed gold friedrichs 
from one another, and ultimately thalers. In eleven 
days we were all "stony broke." From our first 
arrival we had adopted the same system of paying our 
hotel bill every morning ; so that all we had to do 
when our insolvency became complete and hopeless 
was for Vizetelly to get a cheque for ;f 25 cashed to 
pay our travelling expenses home. In due time we 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 325 

landed at Dover, and the passage from Calais having 
been rather a rough one, we thought we might as 
well pass the day at the venerable Kentish watering, 
place ; and so had our luggage transferred to the Lord 
Warden Hotel, where we ordered breakfast. There 
was a copy of the Times on the table ; and "the first 
thing which struck me on opening that influential 
journal, was a review, a column and a half in length, 
of my " Journey Due North." I had read somewhere 
of a Greek brigand who, when he captured travellers, 
made it his merry practice to cause them, irrespective 
of sex, to divest themselves of their garments, and to 
don very voluminous Turkish trousers, fastened at the 
ankles, and made of leather. Before these baggy vest- 
ments were fastened round the waists of the victims the 
facetious Klepht used to introduce into the garments 
three or four lively young tom-cats which had been 
kept without nourishment for four-and-twenty hours. 
The physical sensation of the ladies and gentlemen 
subjected by the descendant of Cacus to this practical 
joke may be more easily imagined than described ; but 
I can imagine that they somewhat resembled the agony 
which I endured when I read that review in the Times 
of my first book. 

I read and re-read it, quite forgetting my breakfast. 
The reviewer began by calling my poor little produc- 
tion "a bundle of impertinences;" and although he 
did not follow the American principle of accusing me 
of having murdered my grandmother, and stolen 
flocks, he went on to insinuate that I was an idiot, a 
libeller, and a snob. I had reason to know afterwards 
that this uncomplimentary criticism emanated from 
the pen of a gentleman with whom I was subsequently 
on terms of intimate friendship — I mean the late John 
Oxenford. I came up to town in the dismallest of 
dumps ; and a few days afterwards I received a letter 



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326 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

from Mr. Richard Bentley, asking me to call at New 
Burlington Street at my earliest convenience. " That 
notice in the Times^' said the worthy bibliopole when 
I met him, " has done us a world of good. The * Jour- 
ney Due North * has gone into a second edition, and I 
have the greatest pleasure in handing you a cheque 
for £70,** Thus something was saved out of the wreck 
of my fortunes at Homburg, and besides, I forthwith 
began, in The Welcome Guesty a humorous narrative of 
our trip and its results, under the title of " Make Your 
Game ; or. The Adventures of the Stout Gentleman, 
the Thin Gentleman, and the Man with the Iron 
Chest." Augustus Mayhew was the stout gentleman, 
Vizetelly was the thin gentleman, and I dubbed my; 
self the man with the iron chest ; because I had bought, 
at a rag-shop in the Judengasse, Frankfort, an old iron 
casket, curiously embossed with diamond-headed nails. 
That casket I thought would be just large enough to 
hold my winnings in golden friedrichs. As a matter 
of fact, those winnings — ^to use Mr. Bob Sawyer's well- 
known figure of speech — might have been put into a 
wineglass, and covered over with a gooseberry leaf. 

" Make Your Game " first appeared in serial form 
in The Welcome Guesty and was illustrated by the pen- 
cils of McConnell and myself ; it was subsequently is- 
sued in book form. Again, in this same Welcome Guest, 
I wrote a series of papers extending over about six 
months, called " Twice Round the Clock ; or, The 
Hours of the Day and Night in London." It is almost 
needless to say that the idea of thus chronicling, hour 
by hour, the shifting panorama of London life, was hot 
original. I never originated anything in my life, 
being totally destitute of the faculty of imagination. 
The scheme of " Twice Round the Clock " was sug- 
gested by a little eighteenth century book, by an anony- 
mous writer, called "One Half the World Knows 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 32/ 

Not How the Other Half Lives," which gave a minute 
account of the humours and sorrows of Metropolitan 
existence from midnight on Saturday until midnight 
on Sunday early in the reign of George III. 

This book, as I have noted, was lent to me by Dick, 
ens, to whom it had been lent by Thackeray ; and I 
surmise that the former was inclined to ask me to 
write a series of similar papers, to be published in 
Household Words, The project, however, of the " Jour- 
ney Due North "put the notion of writing " Twice 
Round the Clock" aside; and I thought so little 
about it that I asked William Brough to have a chop 
with me at the old Rainbow Tavern in Fleet Street ; 
and after dinner, over a bottle of that very old port — 
for which the Rainbow was then so justly celebrated 
— I unfolded my scheme to him ; told him that I had 
abandoned it in view of my impending departure for 
Russia, and presented him in frankalmoign with the 
goodwill of the project. But William Brough was 
more of a dramatist than a descriptive essay writer. 
Whether he began a book on the lines which I had 
laid down for him I do not know ; but he certainly 
never published it. 

By this time — late in 1858 — I was getting seriously 
to work on the Daily Telegraph. The paper was mak- 
ing its way. The idea of the proprietors was that it 
should be not only a thoroughly comprehensive news- 
paper, but also a miscellany of humorous and descrip- 
tive social essays, and in these respects a kind of daily 
Household Words. There were plenty of capable jour- 
nalists about town in those days, much fitter than I 
was to undertake ordinary newspaper work, but the 
social leader-writer, with strong Liberal tendencies, 
was rare. Shirley Brooks would have been the very 
man for us, but he was fully occupied on the Morning 
Chronicle as a writer of leading articles and the parlia- 



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328 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

mentary summary. Ang^s Reach would have been 
quite as welcome as a leader-writer, but he was dead ; 
and Blanchard Jerrold, the son of Douglas, and one 
of Dickens's " young men," had succeeded his father 
as editor of Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, The only hu- 
morous leaders which had appeared in the Times for 
many years were written by the late Gilbert Abbot a 
Beckett. Pray understand that there was no lack of 
lettered journalists, mostly University men, who were 
excellently well qualified to write what I may call the 
heavy political and economic leading articles. As a 
rule the political ones were slavishly founded in the 
anaesthetical style of the Letters of Junius, varied oc- 
casionally by imitations of Gibbon, of Hume, and of 
Mackintosh, while the economic essays were dreary 
richauffds of Adam Smith and McCulloch. That which 
the Messrs. Levy yearned for was a staflF of writers 
who possessed, first of all a lively style, and who, next, 
had seen something of the world, both in London 
and Paris, and who, finally, could turn out plenty of 
"copy." From these points of view I was precisely 
the kind of young man for them. 

I did not go into society, but I knew all about it. 
With low life I was perhaps more conversant than I 
should have been : in fact, as I have elsewhere hinted, 
it would have been difficult to have found in London 
town a more outrageous young Mohock than I had 
been for the past five or six years ; but, seeing that I 
am about to celebrate (D. V.) my sixty-sixth birthday ; 
that my hair is unblanched ; that I have a good appe- 
tite ; that I am only partially deaf and partially blind ; 
and that I can work eight hours a day " without turn- 
ing a hair," I am entitled to hint that there is no use 
in moaning and groaning over the old days of Tom- 
and- Jerry ism. I remember once, at a dinner at poor 
Edmund Yates's, his wife propounding to three of her 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 329 

male guests — ^her husband, Dion Boucicault, and my- 
self — ^the grave question " whether we were sorry " — 
you know what 1 mean ; sorry in the all-round sense, 
unreservedly penitent as Catholics must declare them- 
selves to be in a confession giniraU. Boucicault was 
the first called upon to speak. The bright-witted dra- 
matist — as all his friends are aware, was the very 
model of sincerity and veracity — replied, with truth 
beaming from his expressive countenance, that he was 
deeply, unfeignedly sorry for all his sins. Then came 
my turn. I replied, diplomatically, that I was going 
to be sorry. Mieux tard que jamais. Then the dread 
query — remember, it was many years ago — was put to 
Edmund. He looked at us ; he looked at the ladies ; 
he looked into his plate, and then, bringing his closed 
hand down heavily on the table-cloth, he said, sternly 
and decisively, " No." 

As I have said, my epoch of idleness, or comparative 
idleness, had come to a close; and by the mercy of 
Providence there came over me a fierce hunger for 
literary labour and for study : which appetite, I rejoice 
to say, is still insatiable, and will not, I hope, be ap- 
peased till I die. In the early Telegraph period I used 
to write two leaders of fifteen hundred words each, 
every day save Saturday ; and I can record one spe- 
cial twenty-four hours of hard work, in the course of 
which I managed to get through the two leaders de 
rigueur together with the private view of the Royal 
Academy, the First Notice of the Exhibition itself, and 
an account of a pseudo-mOnstrosity exhibited at the 
Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, called the " Talking Fish." 
It was merely a very big seal, whose unusually strident 
bark might, with the help of a little imagination, be 
construed into " How d'ye do ? " and " What's o'clock ? " 
In the evening I went to the» annual dinner of the 
Royal Literary Fund ; and afterwards I looked in at 



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330 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

a charity ball at Willis's Rooms ; then I repaired to 
the office of the Daily Telegraphy in St. Clement's Lane, 
to write accounts of both events, and concluded my 
labours about one in the morning. 

Please to understand that I never mastered even the 
rudiments of shorthand ; and it was from memory that 
I gave an outline of the speeches at the Literary Fund 
dinner, at which I think the Due d'Aumale took the 
chair. Mr. Gladstone was also among the speakers, and, 
with the sublime impertinence of youth, I condensed 
twenty eloquent orations which he delivered into about 
twenty lines. Touching the leading articles, although 
I had been trained for six years by Dickens in strongly 
Radical principles, or at least in principles which were 
then thought to be strongly Radical, I wrote very 
rarely on politics in the Daily Telegraph ; in fact, the 
political essays which I have composed during a jour- 
nalistic career of more than forty years would not fill 
an octavo volume of a hundred pages, I have made 
many Radical speeches at public meetings, and over 
and over again I have been asked to offer myself as a 
candidate for Parliament ; but I have never consented 
to stand, and I have never been a member of any po- 
litical organisation, simply because my Radicalism has 
always been tinged with a strong leaven of Conserva- 
tism ; and were I to profess myself to be a Conserva- 
tive I should find myself, before long, advocating Rad- 
ical doctrines. If you have the habit of reading every- 
thing that you come across in half a dozen languages, 
it is with difficulty that you will remain a consistent 
partisan. The subjects I wrote upon in the leading 
column of the Daily Telegraph were, comparatively 
speaking, innumerable, but they were nearly all either 
literary, artistic, social, or biographical. The political 
department of the paper was conducted, and admira- 
bly conducted, by two members of the gifted family 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 33 1 

of St John. First we had a well-tried journalist, an 
accomplished gentleman, Mr. James Augustus St. 
John, the author of " Philosophy at the Foot of the 
Cross," whose powerful letters, forcibly Liberal in 
their tone, under the signature of " Greville Brooke " 
in the Sunday Times, almost achieved the popularity 
which had been gained by the letters of " Publicola," 
in the Weekly Dispatch. Mr. St. John had, unhappily, 
become blind. He wrote two or three leaders a week 
for us ; and his subjects used to be sent to him at one 
o'clock every day at his house at St. John's Wood. 
One of his sons, Horace St. John, wrote political lead- 
ers every day, and was, besides, as prolific a producer 
of " copy " as I was. Another scion of the St. John 
family, Bayle, well known as an Oriental traveller, was 
our correspondent in Paris. As for Horace, one may 
say that he had been born in a newspaper office, just 
as I was all but bom on the stage of a theatre. I re- 
member the elder Mr. Levy telling me that when he 
first consented to accept a leading article for the Sun- 
day Times from young Horace St. John, whom he had 
not previously seen, the manuscript was brought to 
the office by a very nice boy, in a round jacket and 
turn-down collar — that nice boy being no other than 
Horace. 

Our modes of working were totally different. Ho- 
race St. John would sit down at a table anywhere, 
and with the first writing implements that came to 
hand, dash off a leader in an hour's time, literally 
scrawling it on I know not how many pages of fools- 
cap. I, on the other hand, could never write anything 
worth reading save in the minute characters I had 
been taught to trace when I was an engraver ; and I 
was unable to write with any kind of ease or comfort 
unless I had my own paper, my own pens, and my own 
ink. Stephens's dark blue writing fluid was the ink 



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332 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



specially favoured by Dickens, and his young men 
usually followed their chief in the way of writing ink. 
We were orthodox in preferring quill pens to steel 
ones ; and I used such pens for at least three years after 
I became a regular member of the staff of the Daily 
Telegraph ; but I never could mend a pen, and the con- 
sequence was that in my cupboard there had accumu- 
lated many hundreds of useless quills. I abandoned 
quill pens altogether for a sufficiently absurd reason. 
I chanced upon an advertisement in the AihefUBum^ an- 
nouncing that a lady of position was willing to mend 
any quantity of quill pens for very moderate remunera- 
tion. I wrote to the address given, and in return, I 
received a note couched, I may say, in a somewhat 
acidulated tone, in which " X Y Z," writing in the 
third person, informed me that before she could com- 
municate her terms to me I must tell her whether my 
reply to her advertisement was serious, or whether I 
intended to make fun. I put the letter in the fire, and 
gave up quill pens. 

I have a little more to say with regard to my early 
days on The Daily Telegraph, There existed, not only 
among the Conservatives, who thought that the cheap 
daily press could only be the prelude of sedition and 
revolution, but also among a large number of journal- 
ists, and Liberal journalists too, of high standing, 
the most violent of prejudices against the new or- 
der of journals which were usually contemptuous- 
ly called the " penny papers." Dickens himself, a 
Liberal of the Liberals, expressed but very half- 
hearted approval of the agitation for the abolition 
of the paper duty ; and it is a most amusing fact 
that members of the staffs of such expensive jour- 
nals as The Times^ The Morning Chronicle^ The Morning 
Post, The Morning Herald, and The Morning Advertiser, 
looked down with aversion and disdain on the con* 



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ON THE STAFF OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 333 



tributors to the " penny press." In those days there 
was a kind of informal cinacle, or club, of newspaper- 
men held every night in an upper room of a tavern 
called the " Red Lion/' in the Strand. I have seen 
William Howard Russell there. I was first taken to 
this select gathering by my friend already mentioned, 
Henry Rumsey Forster, of The Morning Post; but the 
veteran journalists, especially those connected with 
the Herald and the Post^ vehemently protested against 
the young man known to be connected with a penny 
paper, being allowed to join them. 

One of the most indignant of the protestants was the 
late George Hodder, who had something to do with 
the staflF of the Herald — I think in the police reporting 
department — and who was the author of an amusing 
little book called " New Morning at Bow Street," il- 
lustrated by, among others, John Leech and Kenny 
Meadows, and which was by no means an unworthy 
successor to the first and famous " Mornings," illus- 
trated by George Cruikshank. Dear old George Hod- 
der lived to be my intimate friend, and to do a good 
deal of useful hack-work for me. The drollest episode 
of all in connection with the horror felt, or assumed 
to be felt, by the established newspaper men at the 
audacity of the penny journalist presuming to associate 
with them, occurred on the occasion of that festival of 
the Literary Fund, of which I have already made men- 
tion. I " did " public dinners for an entire summer 
season, but the one at which the Due d'Aumale pre- 
sided was, I imagine, the first public banquet that I at- 
tended in a professional capacity. It was then the hos- 
pitable and pleasant practice of the proprietors of the 
tavern or rooms at which public dinners took place to 
ask the reporters, when the principal speakers of the 
evening had had their say, to repair to a private room, 
where cigars, and brandies and soda were provided for 



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334 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

them, and where they could transcribe at least a por- 
tion of their shorthand notes. The privilege was one 
highly valued by the gentlemen of the Press, seeing 
that there was no smoking whatsoever at public din- 
ners. 

The Prince Consort detested tobacco; and the 
Prince of Wales was still too young to be able to civil- 
ise upper and middle class English society in the way 
of enjoying their cigars or their cigarettes as soon 
after the dessert as the Royal toasts had been dis- 
posed of. When at the dinner to which I allude an 
adjournment was made to the private room, my coti- 
fr^res — at least, I thought them my brethren, but they 
were not of the same mind — ^flatly refused to admit me 
to their company. But the landlord, wise in his gen- 
eration, and knowing that the Daily Telegraph was 
rapidly progressing in power and popularity, and that 
a notice in its columns would do him no harm, put 
his foot down, and pithily informed the gentlemen of 
the Press that they might go away if they liked, but 
that the private room was his, that he had invited me 
— I think he called me Mr. Saunders — to smoke a ci- 
gar there, and that there I should remain. Which I 
quietly did. 



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CHAPTER XXIX 

MATRIMONIAL 

1 WAS making by this time a good deal of money, pos- 
sibly fifteen or sixteen pounds a week ; since I was 
not only writing every day in the Daily Telegraphy but 
was also a constant contributor to The Welcoine Guest; 
and besides, the papers from which Dickens had re- 
moved the embargo, were being rapidly republished 
in book form, and were bringing me pieces of silver 
and pieces of gold. In particular, Messrs, Chapman 
and Hall published a collection of these essays under 
the title, " Gaslight and Daylight ; " and Routledge 
brought out another batch in a stout octavo volume 
with the title, " Looking at Life." Moreover, I found 
a publisher, I forget his name, for my disastrously bad 
novel, "The Haddington Peerage." My name was 
now prominently before the public, and in no un- 
favourable light. There was, however, a good deal 
of the old Adam remaining in me, and I was still a 
denizen of Bohemia, although it was of Bohemia 
where you had plenty of money to spend, instead of 
one in which you are often in dire stress for half-a^ 
crown. 

The West End of London was at the time infested 
by dens of iniquity, known as " night houses," where 
half the young members of the aristocracy might be 
seen night after night paying fifteen shillings a bottle 
for gooseberry or rhubarb champagne. Several of 
the most notorious of these houses were in Panton 
Street, off the Haymarket. 



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336 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



The locality was a historical one in the annals of 
London dissipation. It was late one night in" Panton 
Street that Baretti, the compiler of a once widely con- 
sulted English-Italian Dictionary, and the friend of 
Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, Garrick, and the Thrales, 
got embroiled with a group of London bullies, and, in 
self-defence, drew his pocket-knife and stabbed one of 
them. The wound proved mortal, and Baretti was 
tried at the Old Bailey for murder. Garrick, John- 
son, Goldsmith, and, I think, Edmund Burke, were 
among the witnesses called to character ; and the poor 
Italian lexicographer was acquitted. The very origin 
of Panton Street itself was "shady.** Late in the 
reign of Charles II. there was a notorious professional 
gambler, by the name of Colonel Thomas Panton, who 
had fought on the Cavalier side in the Civil War. 
One night, at a gaming house called Piccadilly Hall, 
the site of which was near the Criterion, Colonel Pan- 
ton won a prodigious stake — so prodigious, indeed, 
that he determined thenceforth to relinquish the dice- 
box for good and all. Wonderful to relate, he ad- 
hered to his resolution ; and invested his winnings in 
land and in building operations. He built Panton 
Street and Panton Square, at the top of the Haymar- 
ket, and he died in the odour of respectability. 

The modern Panton Street, since the suppression of 
the night houses, and the building of the Comedy 
Theatre, has been the most decorous and most repu- 
table of thoroughfares. But its morals were scarcely 
unimpeachable in the year 1859, ^^^ ^^^ ^ ^^^^ years 
afterwards. One of those houses was kept by a gen- 
tleman whom I will call Mr. Jehoshaphat. I was in his 
hall of dazzling light one morning about three ; I had 
a dispute with Mrs. Jehoshaphat, touching the cham- 
pagne at fifteen shillings a bottle. Mr. Jehoshaphat 
interfered; there was a fight, I took the floor, Mr. 



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MATRIMONIAL 337 



Jehoshaphat kneeling on my chest, and then, by a clev- 
erly directed blow with his left hand the fingers of 
which were plentifully garnished with diamond rings, 
he split my nose throughout its entire length. Then 
he dexterously rolled me into the street. Fortunately 
for me the next house was an establishment of a sim- 
ilar nature, of which the proprietor was a certain Mr. 
Jack Coney — altogether, considering the equivocal 
profession which he followed, not at all a bad fellow. 
Of course, I was bleeding like a pig. He picked me 
up, tied a table napkin tightly round my face, put me 
in a cab, and took me to Charing Cross Hospital, 
where the house surgeon swiftly sewed up my dam- 
aged nasal organ. As a medical gentleman afterwards 
succinctly observed, " the flesh on my nose presented 
the aspect of a split mackerel ready for the gridiron." 
Then Mr. Jack Coney took me home to my lodgings 
in Salisbury Street. 

I have often read an apocryphal account of this in- 
cident, in which it was stated that about ten in the 
morning I despatched a letter to James Hannay, in 
which I asked him to send me forthwith " a surgeon 
and a guinea." As a matter of fact, the guinea and 
the surgeon story has been told by Hannay of another 
party in an article in the Westminster Review^ on Bo- 
hemia, before my little catastrophe occurred. 

I have often said that the world is not such a big 
village after all. More than a quarter of a century 
after that nocturnal, or rather, matutinal afiFray in 
Panton Street, I happened to be at Melbourne, in the 
colony of Victoria, at Menzies* Hotel, then one of the 
few really comfortable hotels in the Australian Colo- 
nies. We were waited upon at breakfast by a youth, 
whose head was adorned with many sable and glossy 
ringlets, and who told us confidentially that he had 
but recently arrived in the land of the Golden Fleece, 

22 



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338 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

and that his name was Jehoshaphat " Eh, what ? " I 
exclaimed ; " I think I knew somebody of that name 
some years ago.'* " Yes, sir, you did," replied the 
many-ringleted youth, with a courteous bow ; " which 
I am the nevvy of the gentleman which had the hon- 
our to split your conk open at his saloon in Panton 
Street" 

Mr. Jehoshaphat, with his well-directed " facer," 
administered with the diamond-ring-bedizened fist, 
did me unconsciously as much good as it was possible 
for one human being to do another. My wound healed 
rapidly. I think that in a fortnight I was able to 
leave the house ; but meanwhile I had been seriously 
thinking that it was about time to bid good-bye to 
Bohemia. So, after a few days* holiday with my 
mother at Brighton, I went and married the girl of 
my heart. I had known her ever since she was a 
child ; and I think that when I asked her to name 
the wedding-day, she called me " Sir,** when she ex- 
pressed her opinion that the following Monday would 
be quite a nice time for the wedding. It took a little 
longer than that ; as I had to purchase a licence, and 
she had to reside for a certain number of days on the 
other side of the river — a whimsical fancy having pos- 
sessed me that I would not be married in the county 
of Middlesex. 

Of whereabouts in Southwark or Lambeth we were 
eventually united, I have not the slightest remem- 
brance ; but I know that when the ceremony was at 
an end, shortly before noon, the beadle gave the bride 
away, and the pew-opener was her bridesmaid. I put 
her in a hansom, and bade her engage some nice, quiet, 
furnished apartments at Brompton. Then I walked 
over Southwark Bridge to my work at the Daily Tele- 
graph ; and on my way, at a second-hand bookseller's 
I bought for sixpence a copy of the first edition of 



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MATRIMONIAL 339 



Mrs, Glasse's Cookery-book, of which scarcely half-a- 
dozen copies are known to be in existence, and it is 
now worth a great deal of money. So you see I se- 
cured two treasures in one happy forenoon. 

My wife was so young and so pretty that she expe- 
rienced considerable difficulty in obtaining the nice, 
quiet, furnished apartments which she sought; and, 
indeed, she laughingly told me, when I met her on 
the morrow of our union, that she thought the best 
thing she could do was to wear our marriage certifi- 
cate as a brooch. It did not, however, come to that 
pass. We obtained the necessary accommodation at 
a house in Brompton Square ; and, oddly enough, as 
I have already said, the landlady was the widow of 
Morris Barnett, the actor, dramatist and critic. 

We were very happy in Brompton Square. Thack- 
eray, who, with his two daughters, lived in Onslow 
Square close by, used to come and see us ; and an- 
other of our most frequent visitors was Dante Gabriel 
Rossetti, who gave us a photo of his wonderful pen- 
and-ink drawing of Mary Magdalen at the house of 
Simon the Pharisee. I have it, now, with the auto- 
graph inscription to my wife hanging in my study ; 
and I am glad to say the photograph has not faded. 
Those who are familiarly cognisant with Rossetti's 
work are aware that for the face and figure of the 
Magdalen he used two models : the head and arms of 
the figure were studied from a delightful actress who 
is still living, and whom I have had the honour to 
know for many years ; the remainder was studied 
from a typically pre-Raphaelite model, immortalised 
by the artist in his poem, called " Jenny." 

Jules Janin, the famous dramatic critic of the /our- 
nal des D/bats, got into terrible trouble with his jour- 
nalistic confrh'es because he minutely described the 
occurrences of his wedding-day, and descanted most 



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340 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

effusively on the personal charms and the sweet char- 
acter of his wife. I hope that my readers will do me 
the justice to admit that I have not been very diffuse 
on the subject of my own nuptials ; but as it happens 
that this book is the unvarnished story of my Life, I 
should be false to the scheme which I laid down for 
myself many years ago, when I first thought of writ- 
ing my Life at all, were I not to say something about 
the great change that came over me when I had to 
work for somebody else besides myself ; and when my 
toil was requited by the devotedness and love of a 
young and intelligent partner. A bachelor must be, 
to a certain extent, selfish ; he cannot help it ; he 
thinks of himself in some shape or another from morn- 
ing till night ; and selfishness begets self-indulgence 
and hard-heartedness. It is not so with a widower ; 
he has enjoyed the bliss of wedded life. Is there a 
nobler passage in Johnson's letter to Chesterfield than 
that in which he says : " The notice you have been, 
pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had 
been kind ; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent 
and cannot enjoy it, till I am solitary and cannot impart 
it^ till I am known and do not want it." To my mind 
it is impossible to be really happy unless you can im- 
part at least one moiety of your happiness to others. 
Never mind what the moiety is — a ticket for the opera, 
a bunch of flowers, a new garment, a dinner at Green- 
wich, a drive in the park — it will not be thoroughly 
enjoyed unless you can share it with somebody you 
love. It was my great good fortune to espouse a pious, 
charitable, and compassionate young woman ; and she 
did her best, during a union of five-and-twenty years, 
to weed out of me my besetting sin of selfishness, and 
to soften and dulcify a temper naturally violent and 
unreasoning, and of which the normal brutality was 
often aggravated to verbal ferocity. 



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MATRIMONIAL 341 



Another noticeable and, to me, advantageous feat- 
ure in the change that came over me was that I be- 
gan to take a lively interest in feminine things. Those 
who know me are aware that I am the very reverse of 
a " Molly '* ; but during the six or seven years of my 
Bohemianism, poverty-stricken or affluent, I had been 
almost entirely severed from the companionship of 
what I may call " nice girls." My dearest sister had 
died of consumption ; 1 had two maiden cousins alive ; 
but they were much older than I was, and I rarely saw 
them. My mother was far advanced in years; she 
had given up teaching, and it was only when I went 
to see her at Brighton that 1 had an opportunity of 
conversing with ladies in that grade of society with 
which I had been familiar from my boyhood. When 
I got married my Hfe seemed to have put on an en- 
tirely different and radiant hue ; it was full of Music — 
for is not the constant talk of the woman you love the 
sweetest melody that a man can listen to ? I grew in- 
terested in bonnets ; I took an interest in skirts ; I 
loved to chat and to argue with my wife about her 
new frocks and mantles. I took in the Follet and the 
Ladies' Gazette of Fashion; and my subscriptions to 
those journals led in all probability to my becoming a 
zealous student of the history of female costume, and 
of my possessing, at present, perhaps the largest col- 
lection of pattern-books and fashion-plates, ancient and 
modem, of any private man in England. 

When I first went to live in Brompton Square, I 
don't think I had twenty books in the world. If I 
wanted any recondite information I repaired to the 
reading-room of the British Museum. Cookery, again, 
became a topic of theoretical and practical attention in 
my young married days ; but in my own case culinary 
study was not a novelty, but a revival. In another 
chapter I have described how my mother caused all her 



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342 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

children to be taught to cook; and until about 185 1, 
when my brother Charles and I kept house together, 
we did all the cooking at our lodgings in Camden 
Town. During the dark days of the long nightmare 
of Bohemianism, I did not forget how to cook, but my 
culinary faculty was in a state of suspended animation. 
After my marriage the cunning of the archimogeiros 
came back unbidden to me ; and it was one of the ear- 
liest and most delightful of my experiences as a Bene- 
dick to teach Beatrice how to cook. The poor soul 
was absolutely ignorant of the difficult and humanising 
art. Roasting a joint, boiling a piece of fish, grilling 
a chop, frying a rasher of bacon, and making a plain 
pudding constituted the aggregate of her culinary 
powers. Mrs. Barnett's cooking was of the ordinary 
lodging-house type — that is to say, detestable ; but we 
soon altered all that. 

I bought in the Brompton Road a very nice little 
batterie de cuisine made of brown Wedgwood ware ; 
and with the^id of a spirit lamp and some charcoal 
embers we managed to get up the most dainty little 
repasts imaginable, without troubling Mrs. Barnett 
and her food-spoiler at all. My wife's capacity for 
cooking developed with surprising rapidity. She be- 
came in years, as she grew, a veritable cordon bleu ; 
and between 1875 and 1885, when we had a roomy old 
house in Mecklenburgh Square, and I was prosperous 
and could afford to be hospitable, we concocted a num- 
ber of lunches and dinners which won the admiration 
of some of the most distinguished gourmets in London. 
The manner of our procedure was as follows : I settled 
the menu. If there was any made dish or any sauces 
with which she was unacquainted, she asked me for 
information, and I gave it her. Then she took three 
days to think out the dinner. Afterwards she would 
repair to her laboratory, which was a little room over- 



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MATRIMONIAL 343 



looking the garden, and which we had fitted up with 
shelves, on which she arranged all her condiments, 
her miniature stew-pans and braising-pans and sauce- 
pans, and so forth. The place came to look at last like 
that astronomic library which forms the frontispiece 
to one of the volumes of Grimod de la Reynifere's 
•* Almanach des Gourmands," in which the articles on 
the shelves are not books, but hams, capons, pdUs de 
foie graSy pots of conserves, bottles of oil and vinegar, 
and other creature comforts. In that laboratory, 
standing before a broad kitchen table, and aided by 
one of the neatest-handed parlourmaids I ever knew^ 
the artistic portion of the dinners used to be accom- 
plished; the ingredients for the made dishes were 
mixed ; there was white stock and there was brown 
stock simmering over the charcoal ; the sauces were 
all made, labelled, and placed in different casseroles in a 
bain marie pan of boiling water ; and all Mrs. Cook in 
the regions below had to do was to make the soup, 
dress the fish and vegetables, and roast the joints and 
game. We had a worthy soul, at £y:> per annum, 
who stayed with us several years ; and when I went 
to Australia, in 1885, she was fit to be cook at a Lon- 
don club. She used to beg and pray to be taught to 
make sauces and entries^ and when my wife had any 
leisure she used to instruct her ; but on the occasion of 
an exceptionally recherchi banquet, she herself, and she 
only, was la sauciire. This is not a digression, although 
I am well aware that my autobiographical watch has 
been going a great deal too fast. 



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CHAPTER XXX 

AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 

We must hark back, if you please, to 1859 ^tnd the 
beginning of the month of September in that year. A 
gigantic steam galleon designed by the Second Brunei 
and built by Scott Russell and Co., at Millwall, had 
been completed, and was to start for her trial trip from 
her moorings at Deptford to Portland Roads. The 
huge creature, which weighed 12,000 tons, and on the 
construction of which more than a quarter of a million 
sterling had been spent, had taken two years from 
November 3rd, 1857, to the end of January, 1858, to 
launch. For a short time her name was the Leviat/ian; 
but it occurred to some wiseacre that it was wicked to 
give a ship a biblical name ; so her appellation was 
changed to the Great Eastern. Is it wicked, I wonder, 
to call a toy houseboat full of wooden beasts and birds 
a Noah's Ark, and to dub the little wooden puppets in 
the long gaberdines Shem, Ham, and Japhet ? By the 
way, did you ever see Noah in a Noah's Ark? I never 
did. There is one figure in an ample skirt whom chil- 
dren call " Mrs. Noah," but the Admiral is for some 
strange reason absent from the craft which he so ably 
commanded. I had some slight acquaintance w^ith 
Brunei the Second, and remember that he continually 
wore a black velvet skull cap ; he was a martyr, poor 
gentleman, to neuralgia, and died a few days after the 
disastrous trip of the Great Eastern to the south coast. 
Mr. John Scott Russell, who did not die until 1882, 
was in the prime of life in 1859; I knew him well ; he 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 345 

was a man who had had varied experiences, and fort- 
unes as varied. At one period, I believe, he had been 
a writer on scientific subjects in the Athetueum. In 
1855 he was senior partner in a great ship-building 
firm at Mill wall ; and to his care, in order to receive 
some practical training in engineering, Mr. Herbert 
Ingram, M.P. for Boston and proprietor of the IlluS" 
trated London NewSy had confided one of his sons, now 
Sir William Ingram, Bart., M.P. The Daily Telegraph 
commissioned me to write an account of the trial trip 
of the Great Eastern. I joined the great ship, not at 
Deptford, but at Erith ; travelling down, by the way, 
with Dickens, who was on his way to his house at 
Gads Hill. There was a goodly array of guests on 
board the gigantic steamship. Among them I remem- 
ber the Marquis of Stafford, afterwards Duke of Suth- 
erland, Lord Alfred Paget, the Earl of Mountcharles, 
and Mr., now Sir E. J. Reed, M.P. Who represented 
the Times? I am unable to remember; but Mr. Mur- 
phy was there for the Daily NewSy and Mr. John HqI- 
lingshead for the Morning Post. Herbert Ingram was 
likewise of the party ; and to his presence on board I 
always attributed the pleasing circumstance that on 
the 8th September my life was not brought to a sudden 
conclusion. The commander of the vessel was Captain 
Harrison, who, from the repeated and uniformly suc- 
cessful voyages which he had made in the service of 
the Cunard Company, had earned the proud title of 
the " Atlantic Navigator." He was a tall, handsome 
man of gallant bearing, as brave as a lion, and in mo- 
ments of danger as cool as a cucumber. 

The first day all went well on board the Great East- 
erny which was said to be doing from eighteen to 
twenty knots an hour; but on the afternoon of the 
next day a dreadful catastrophe occurred. Dinner be- 
ing over, some of the guests went on deck for smoking 



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346 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

or promenading purposes ; but there remained in the 
saloon a somewhat numerous body of passengers, 
mainly journalists. By this time the prejudice enter- 
tained by the members of the regular press against the 
writers in the " penny papers " had begun to subside ; 
and my colleagues suggested that I should propose the 
health of Mr. Herbert Ingram. I was as yet a blun- 
dering and confused speaker ; still I was becoming used 
to the habit of getting on my hind legs. I was telling 
my hearers how much Mr. Ingram had done for il- 
lustrated journalism, when a horrible noise was au- 
dible and the dinner-table was littered with splinters 
of glass from shattered skylights and ports. We all 
rushed on deck ; there was a cry that the boiler of 
the donkey-engine had burst. The case was worse 
than that. 

Fortunately, we had no ladies on board ; but there 
was a handsome ladies' cabin through which passed 
one of the funnels. To cool the atmosphere of the 
cabin the funnel was encased in an apparatus called a 
" steam jacket ; " and the intervening space was kept 
filled with water. Unfortunately, as in the instance of 
the Balaclava Charge, " someone had blundered." The 
" steam jacket " was unprovided with a safety valve, or 
if it existed it was closed : the consequence being that 
the over-heated water passed into the state of steam 
and the " steam jacket " burst with a tremendous ex- 
plosion. The greatest amount of damage was done in 
the stokehold, in which ten firemen lost their lives, 
while a large number of other persons were more or 
less seriously injured. This dceadful fatality happened 
while the steamer was off Beachy Head. Naturally 
there reigned for a while something closely resembling 
a panic among the passengers. There was a rumour 
that the steering gear had collapsed, and that the ship 
was drifting on shore. Luckily this was not so ; and 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 34/ 

Captain Harrison's coolness and presence of mind 
very soon enabled him to reassure his guests that the 
worst was over ; while the chief engineer — I forget his 
name, but he was a Scotchman — did his best to set 
matters right in the engine-room. Often in after years, 
when I have seen Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, the late com- 
mander of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, coolly, calm- 
ly, and dauntlessly wrestling with what the penny- 
a-liners are laughed at for calling "the devouring 
element," but which is surely an element, and as 
surely devours, I have thought of Captain Harrison, 
of the Great Eastern^ cool, calm, and determined. 

I have seen many harrowing spectacles both in war 
and in peace in my time ; but never, perhaps, have 1 
witnessed a spectacle ghastlier and more pitiable than 
that which presented itself when the wounded firemen 
were brought up out of the hideous chasm made by the 
explosion, and laid out in the saloon. They were not 
burnt. They were simply scalded through and through 
by the steam, and it was from this scalding, aggravated 
by the shock given to the system, that most of the 
wounded died. One poor creature rolled in his agony 
off the couch on to the floor ; one of the guests tried to 
help him up ; but to his horror the flesh of the man's 
hands came bodily off in those of the person who was 
trying to succour him ; and the bones of the stoker's 
hands were revealed in skeleton nakedness. Whether 
we had any medical men on board I do not recollect, but 
this I remember well, and shall remember, I hope, until 
my dying day. I speak of the ministrations, equally 
tender and heroic, of the Marquis of Stafford to these 
scalded miserables. A happy thought occurred to him 
of how their dreadful anguish might at least be alle- 
viated. 

It was to encase the bodies of the^ wounded in sheets 
of cotton-wool soaked in oil. There was plenty of oil 



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348 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

on board, but alas ! cotton- wool was not, at first, pro- 
curable; and oakum would have served the desired 
purpose only very clumsily. Suddenly Lord Stafford 
exclaimed, "By Jove! there must be wool in those 
curtains." In an instant a hundred hands were drag- 
ging down and ripping asunder the sumptuous damask 
curtains of the saloon and the side cabins ; and these 
curtains were found to be lined with wool, scores of 
yards of which were at once at the disposal of those 
who were tending the wounded. Very few of the 
guests turned into their berths till sunrise. It was a 
night of groans and shrieks of agony, bravely borne, 
but at times too great for human endurance ; but the 
sheets of cotton-wool soaked in oil did their beneficent 
work ; and towards morning some of the most direly 
injured were sunk in blessed sleep. 

You may wonder why I attributed my own escape 
from a violent death to the presence on board of Mr. 
Herbert Ingram. The briefest of explanations will 
suffice. I intended after dinner to retire to my berth, 
lie down, read a book, and, perhaps, have a doze. 
Heaven so willed it that I made an after-dinner speech, 
which was interrupted by the explosion. There would 
have been no more " G. A. S." if I had sought my berth 
immediately after dinner, for my cabin was blown to 
pieces. When we came into Portland Roads, about 
ten the next morning, the Great Eastern was soon sur- 
rounded by pleasure-boats and yachts, gaily decked 
with flags, and full of ladies in radiant toilettes, while 
bands of music discoursed festive melodies. But the 
music died away into awful silence when those who 
had come out to welcome us saw that we were flying 
our colours half-mast, and that we had ten dead bodies 
on board. I made the best of my way to Weymouth, 
and there was a rush to the telegraph office ; for most 
of us had given hostages to fortune, and were thinking 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 349 



of the fear and consternation which must have been 
convulsing those dear to us. 

Was there ever a more unfortunate ship than this 
colossal sea monster, the Great Eastern ? The Levia-^ 
than forsooth ? It would have been nearer the mark had 
she been christened in the outset the Disastrous. Early 
in the ensuing November, I ran down one morning 
with Alfred Dickens, inspecting engineer to the Board 
of Health, and who had been a pupil of Brunei, to 
Southampton, to renew my acquaintance with Captain 
Harrison. The Great Eastern, after sailing to Holy- 
head, and weathering very satisfactorily a terrific storm, 
proceeded to Southampton for the winter. We lunched 
on board with Captain Harrison ; but luck was against 
the commander as well as the ship, and the brave, de- 
voted mariner, a very few weeks afterwards, was 
drowned in a puddle, so to speak, close to shore, of the 
Solent. The big ship made a voyage across the At- 
lantic, but, on returning to England, she got into the 
hands of the sheriff's officers. Subsequently, on her 
way to and from New York, she was half wrecked in 
a terrific gale, and ran on a rock near Long Island, and 
injured her keel badly. She was again seized, on be- 
half of her crew, who claimed unpaid wages. She 
never paid any dividends to any of her successive series 
of shareholders. In 1861, this unparalleled steamship 
was put up for sale at jf 30,000, and bought in ; then it 
was proposed to employ her as a coal-hulk at Gibraltar ; 
then she was sold for ;^26,ooo, and was made a public 
show in the Mersey ; but the magistrates refused to 
grant a drink licence for the exhibition, and the 
wretched ship lumbered round to the Clyde, and was 
sold to a firm of metal-brokers for ;^ 16,500 — the Dis- 
astrausy with a vengeance ! This ill-fated ship did, how- 
ever, a few distinct acts of public service. She laid 
successfully the French, the Atlantic, and the Indian 



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3 so LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

cables ; and her exploits in the last instance have been 
ably chronicled by my friend, Mr. Joseph Charles Park- 
inson, who, in his capacity as a journalist, was on board 
the Great Eastern on her voyage to India. 

Another important commission which I received be- 
longs to the year i860, and to the month of June there- 
of, when Her Majesty the Queen reviewed, in Hyde 
Park, a force of more than eighteen thousand Volun- 
teers. The Daily Telegraph had a great deal to do with 
the promotion of the Volunteer movement, which was 
at first either violently opposed or contemptuously 
sneered at. Even the usually far-seeing and right- 
minded Mr. Punch had a good many flings at the nas- 
cent, or rather, renascent, idea of a volunteer army. 
John Leech had a standing butt, whom he called the 
"Brook Green Volunteer," a preposterous creature 
who was depicted under all kinds of ridiculous circum- 
stances. The Brook Green Volunteer in Leech's 
drawings threw out skirmishers in the shape of his 
wife and children ; deployed ; executed skilful flank 
movements, and formed himself in a square to receive 
cavalry. Then there was the irresistibly comic picture 
of a barber in full Volunteer uniform, popping his head 
in at the door of his shaving-room, and saying to his 
assistant, " Alexander, when you have finished titivat- 
ing the gentleman you must come to drill." But the 
Volunteer movement triumphed over all the sneers 
and all the disparaging criticism of the old gentlemen 
at the Service clubs, and the bantering of a section of 
the press ; it grew and grew with astonishing rapidity 
to universality of acceptance. There cannot be any 
doubt that the eagerness of young Englishmen of 
the middle and working classes to be enrolled, and 
drilled, and disciplined, as unpaid defenders of their 
country was, in a large measure, due to a vague 
but widely spread apprehension that France meant 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 35 1 

mischief towards the British Empire, and had meant 
such mischief ever since the attempt of Felice Orsini 
and his accomplices to assassinate Napoleon III. 

It happened that I was in Paris at the time when 
that attempt was made. I was dining one evening 
with some friends at the Caf6 Riche, a once famous 
restaurant, but which has now been turned into a gar- 
ish brasserie^ or beer-drinking saloon, at the corner of 
the Rue Lepeletier, in which street all my readers may 
not be aware was situated the old Grand Opera. We 
had got to the stage of coflFee and liqueurs, when we 
heard three successive and violent concussions as if 
three huge doors had been slammed to. A minute or 
two afterwards the restaurant was invaded by the 
police, who practically arrested everybody in the 
room ; but we had all either passports or visiting cards 
to show ; and, after a brief detention, we were allowed 
to go about our business. Then came the absurd epi- 
sode of the French colonels sending back the decora- 
tions of the Bath conferred upon them by the Queen, 
and vehemently imploring the Emperor to lead them 
to the shores of perfidious Albion, whence they could 
track the murderous conspirators to their lair. 

I saw one of these conspirators, a Dr. Claude Ber- 
nard, tried at the Old Bailey under the provisions of 
an Act which had been pushed through two very un- 
willing Houses of Parliament. Mr. Edwin James de- 
fended Bernard, and his speech, very stirring as it was, 
had certainly a strong element of " high falutin " about 
it. I can see him now, waving his right hand in ex- 
aggerated forensic style, and thundering forth an in- 
flated allusion to " four hundred thousand French in- 
fantry, their bayonets blazing in the riiorning sun," 
preparing to invade England. Dr. Bernard was ac- 
quitted. The crowded court cheered ; the people in 
the corridors cheered ; and the shouts were taken up 



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352 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SAL A 

by the mob in the Old Bailey, and went rolling down 
in a roaring tide to Ludgate. As for Dr. Bernard, I 
remember that just before he left the dock a free man, 
he struck his black kid-gloved hand on the ledge be- 
fore him and exclaimed, " I have conspired, and I will 
always conspire." Fortunately he had kept that little 
admission to himself before the jury pronounced him 
not guilty. Out of all these things grew stalwart, 
valid, vascular, the Volunteer movement, the strength- 
ening of which was wonderfully accelerated by some 
verses in the Times^ long ascribed to Martin Farquhar 
Tupper, the writer of that pre-eminently silly book, 
" Proverbial Philosophy," but subsequently acknowl- 
edged by Alfred Tennyson as his own. The allusion 
to Napoleon III. as the " faithful ally ; but only the 
Devil knows what he means " — and the refrain of 

" Form, forai, riflemen, form 
Ready, be ready to meet the storm " 

must have attracted thousands of stout young fellows 
to the ranks of the Volunteers. 

The September review was a magnificent success. 
There was an Embassy from Morocco in London at the 
time ; and it was curious to see the tall, gaunt, olive- 
skinned Moorish Emirs, in their snowy- white bur- 
nouses, standing up in their landau to witness the march 
past. Her Majesty and the Prince Consort likewise hon- 
oured the Victoria Rifles — ^a corps which had been the 
nucleus from which the movement had been formed. 
They had been originally the first Middlesex Volun- 
teers, and dated from 1803, as the Duke of Cumber- 
land's sharpshooters ; and they maintained their organ- 
isation as a rifle club when other Volunteer corps were 
disbanded. In 1835 they were permitted by the 
Duchess of Kent, the august mother of our beloved 
Sovereign, to take the title of the Royal Victoria Rifle 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 353 



Club, hence, I should say, the enthusiastic applause 
bestowed on them at the review. 

Among the other battalions which marched past I 
noted the Artist's corps, and the pleasant murmur that 
fluttered through a standful of ladies of "There's Mr. 
Leighton ; there's Mr. Millais ! " Then cheers, min- 
ified with laughter, were audible, as the Inns of Court 
corps marched past. Of course, these legal warriors 
had already had conferred on them the title of " The 
Devil's Own"; and one of my colleagues declared 
that when the Inns of Court braves approached, the 
massed bands at the saluting point struck up the in- 
spiriting air of ** Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself." 
The authorities were very civil to the Press on this 
occasion ; and we had a large tribune, or stand, allotted 
to us, in front of which were gathered, on the green 
sward, a large number of officers of the regulars in full 
uniform. There was a good deal of laughing and 
chattering among these gentlemen before the review 
commenced ; so up rode H.R.H. the Field Marshal 
Commanding-in-Chief, who apostrophised the officers 
in somewhat vigorous language ; but in vain did the 
Royal Duke objurgate ; the gentlemen in scarlet and 
gold and blue and gold adopted the very crafty tactics 
of giving him three hearty cheers, whereat the Royal 
Ranger of Hyde Park rode away with a smile upon 
his honest features. 

That review in Hyde Park brought me in a consid- 
erable sum of money. I wrote a couple of columns or 
so in the Daily Telegraph, describing the pageant to 
the best of my ability ; but a day or two afterwards 
there came to me a pushing young gentleman named 
Edward Tinsley, who, in partnership with his brother 
William, had just set up a publishing business in Cath- 
erine Street, Strand. He saw his way to making a 
shilling book out of my narrative of the review, and I 
23 



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354 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

saw my way to accepting the very liberal terms which 
he ofiFered me. So the little book was published, and 
it had a prodigious sale ; but for what reason I know 
not. I have never since been able to set eyes upon it. 
I must go back a few months in touching on the sub- 
ject of the army of unpaid defenders, whose motto 
was " Defence, not Defiance.'* 

It was late in June that the Royal Review took 
place in Hyde Park, but, early in the preceding March, 
no less than 2,500 Volunteer officers were presented to 
the Queen at Buckingham Palace. That memorable 
levie is additionally impressed on my mind by a mis- 
hap which, at the time, was productive of considerable 
embarrassment to me. We were living, at the time, 
in furnished apartments in Sloane Street : — a parlour 
and bedroom on the ground floor, with an annex run- 
ning into the garden, which I converted into a library 
— for I was beginning to buy books as well as to love 
them. Edmund Yates, then a clerk in the Secretary's 
Office at St. Martin's-le-Grand, was an ensign in the 
Post Office corps, of which, I think. Viscount Bury, the 
late Earl of Albemarle, was the commander. When 
the levie was over Edmund, in full Volunteer panoply, 
called on us in Sloane Street. It was tea time. I was 
away at the Daily Telegraph at work, but Ensign Yates 
very gladly accepted my wife's invitation to partake of 
the cup which cheers but not inebriates. The Cornhill 
Magazine was then in the spring of its bright career ; 
and its publisher, Mr. George Smith, had accentuated 
his appreciation of " The Hogarth Papers," which I 
was writing for Thackeray, by presenting me with a 
superb elephant folio of the complete works of the 
great English painter, engraver, and moralist. This 
tome used to be known as the " fifty-guinea Hogarth," 
and is still worth a considerable sum. My wife, de- 
lighted with the gift made to her husband, was show- 



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AN ADVENTURE ON THE GREAT EASTERN 355 

ing Edmund the tall tome with womanly pride and 
joy. 

But woe is me ! The teacup slipped from Edmund's 
hand, and four of the choicest plates in the " Marriage 
k la Mode " were saturated with tea. He made haste 
the following morning to send for the volume in order 
to have it treated by a firm in Rathbone Place, who 
undertook to take the stains out of old books. But 
alas ! my " Hogarth," which was sold with the rest of 
my library during a two years* absence in foreign 
parts between 1865 and 1867, never recovered its pris- 
tine beauty. 



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CHAPTER XXXI 

THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 

Yes ; the Cornkill was in full swing ; and the " Ho- 
garth Papers," at which I could only work at night, 
were bringing me between fifty and sixty pounds a 
month ; and although published anonymously, they 
had brought me a good deal of public recognition from 
high-class journals. With respect to these papers I 
had cause once more to be grateful for the personal 
kindness of Mr. George Smith. For one of the instal- 
ments of the papers in question, which dealt with the 
career of Hogarth as an apprentice to Mr. Gamble, 
silversmith, of Cranbourne Alley, Mr. Smith suggested 
that I should make a page-drawing on wood, repre- 
senting little boy Hogarth in his master's workshop, 
busy in engraving a coat-of-arms on a silver plateau. 
I believe the idea had suggested itself to Mr. George 
Smith through the circumstance of Thackeray having 
just then bought at Garrard's, in the Haymarket, a 
small silver waiter of undeniably early Georgian make, 
and engraved with a shield and crest. Thackeray was 
pleased to fancy that the plateau might have been en- 
graved by Hogarth himself. That may have been a 
delusion; but it was assuredly a harmless and a de- 
lightful one. I made the drawing according to Mr. 
Smith's suggestion. It was summer time. I had been 
to the Opera ; but I went to work at midnight, and I 
had finished my drawing by six o'clock in the morn- 
ing. I knew what I was about with- respect to an en- 
graver's workshop ; sind the drawing was minutely 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 357 

technical. There was the little lad, perched on a high 
stool, with the silver plate before him on a leather 
cushion, and delving into it with his burin. The light 
from the window was modified by passing through a 
screen of tissue paper framed with wire. Scattered 
about him were all the tools pertaining to his craft ; 
and a little anvil and hammer to ** knock up " the plate 
if it had been incised too deeply ; while in the back- 
ground, through another window, you saw the silver- 
smith'€ shop itself, with Mr. Gamble behind the 
counter exhibiting some choice article of plate to a 
belle of the period, radiant in powder and patches. I 
was very proud of the drawing when I had finished it; 
but somehow or another it failed to meet with the 
approval of Thackeray, who came to see us after break- 
fast. I very gladly acquiesced in his decision that the 
drawing was not good enough for the Magazine. I 
should have acquiesced in anything else that he had 
asked me or told me not to do, and I should have just 
taken a handkerchief dipped in fair water and wiped 
the entire drawing off the box-wood block had not my 
wife passionately entreated me not to destroy it, but 
to let her have it, in order that she might frame it. 

It chanced that Mr. George Smith called on us that 
afternoon, while I, as usual, was absent at work.. He 
persuaded my wife to let him take away the block 
with him. I think that he must have exerted his great 
influence with the conductor of the Cornhill; for the 
next number contained a beautifully executed wood- 
engraving of my drawing : the only alteration made 
in which was a portfolio of prints lying loose on the 
floor. Mr. George Smith gave me £2^ for my six 
hours' hard labour; but his kindness did not end 
there. The drawing, with my name attached to it, 
was produced in the great Edition de Luxe of the works 
of William Makepeace Thackeray ; and right proud 



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358 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 



am I that just one tiny morsel of my poor handiwork 
should make part of that great literary and artistic 
monument. 

The " Hogarth Papers " ran in the Cornhill for, I 
think, eleven months. Thackeray wanted some more 
articles from me, but not a serial ; and I was debating 
• in my mind on what subject I could most amusingly 
descant in a paper of from sixteen to twenty pages in 
length, when Mr. John Maxwell, now become a pros- 
perous publisher in Fleet Street, informed me Ihat he 
was thinking of starting a new magazine on the same 
lines as the Cornhill^ but without illustrations ; and he 
proposed that I should be the editor of the new vent- 
ure, and that my name, as its conductor, should ap- 
pear on the title-page. I thought the proposal was 
not one to be slighted, as it would bring me not only 
a handsome salary as editor, but remuneration at the 
rate of thirty shillings or £2 a page for my contribu- 
tions ; and I had the plot of another novel in my head. 
Thackeray and I parted on the best of terms, and he 
even said some friendly words about the rival maga- 
zine in one of his " Roundabout Papers." To this pe- 
riodical I gave the name of Temple Bar ; and from a 
rough sketch of mine of the old Bar which blocked 
the way in Fleet Street, Mr. Percy Macquoid drew an 
admirable frontispiece. As a motto I imagined a quo- 
tation from Bosvvell, " And now, sir," said Dr. John- 
son, " we will take a walk down Fleet Street." To 
the best of my knowledge and belief Dr. Johnson 
never said a word about taking a walk down Fleet 
Street ; but my innocent supercluric was, I fancy, im- 
plicitly believed in for at least a generation by the 
majority of magazine readers. 

Temple Bar started with a circulation of about 30,- 
000, and held its own successfully as it grew in months 
and years. I had a very strong staff, including Ed- 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 359 



mund Yates, whom I at once fixed upon as my sub- 
editor ; one of the Miss Powers, a niece of the Coun- 
tess of Blessington ; Charles Kenney, of the Times, the 
son of the popular dramatist who wrote Sweethearts 
and Wives; Blanchard Jerrold, and T. H. Sotheby, 
who wrote some learned papers on ancient classical 
novelists. Another early contributor was Mr. Robert 
Buchanan. So far as I can recollect — and my memory 
does not often trip me up — Mr. Buchanan came one 
foggy evening to my chambers in Clement's Inn with 
a manuscript poem. Whether he brought me a letter 
of introduction I am unable to remember; but I find 
that Edmund Yates, in his " Memoirs," states that the 
renowned poet came to him at his residence, in Abbey 
Road, with a letter of introduction from Mr. W. H. 
Wills, of All the Year Round. Still, I am persuaded 
that Mr. Buchanan did call on me ; that I read his 
manuscript, and that I wrote to Edmund to say that, 
although I was no poet, I felt persuaded that in this 
youthful Scotch gentleman there was a mine of genius 
which only required working. 

The fame which the poems and the dramas of Rob- 
ert Buchanan have brought him, have vindicated, I 
think, the prediction which I made concerning him. 
But, strange to relate, I have never spoken to or even 
seen Mr. Robert Buchanan, to my knowledge, since 
the year i860, as aforesaid. The first poem which he 
wrote for me was entitled, I think, ** Temple Bar." 
Wiltshire Staunton Austin was another member of my 
staff. He was a most remarkable man ; handsome, 
richly lettered, witty, humorous, and one of the read- 
iest and most powerful speakers I have ever listened 
to. He was the son of a West Indian gentleman, and 
a graduate of Oxford and a barrister of Lincoln's Inn. 
He managed, unhappily, to muddle away a life 
which was full of splendid promise, and died prema- 



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36o LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

turely. I remember two brothers of his, both of whom 
I hope are alive and flourishing. One was Mr. Ware 
Austin, whom I heard of once as the editor of an Ind- 
ian newspaper. The other, Mr. Charles Austin, an 
intimate friend of the late Lewis Wingfield, travelled 
extensively in Europe and in the United States, and 
was a constant correspondent of the Times. I knew 
him but very slightly, and thereby hangs a tale for 
the truth of which I am not quite ready to vouch, but 
which I tell as it was told to me. Charles Austin was 
a frequent contributor to the Saturday Review, in 
which he once wrote a very slashing article castigat- 
ing the young and aggressive Daily Telegraph. In 
those days our leading columns were rather too full of 
quotations from the classics, and of course the writer 
of the Saturday article, which was entitled " Jupiter 
Junior," took care to insinuate that all our classical 
allusions were stolen from Lempri^re, or from the 
mottoes appended to the armorial bearings in " Burke's 
Peerage." 

As I have said, my knowledge of Charles Austin 
was very limited, and on the few occasions that I did 
meet him he seemed to me a very shy and reserved 
person, to whom, moreover, the fact of his being in 
my company did not afford any gratification, but 
rather the contrary. Years afterwards Lewis Wing- 
field was talking to me about Charles Austin, and I ex- 
pressed my admiration of his clear and vigorous style. 
" It is a pity," quoth poor Lewis, " that you two did 
not come together more frequently ; but Austin has 
often said to me, * That man will never forgive me for 
having written Jupiter Junior in the Saturday Reviezv, 
and for having unmercifully demolished a leading ar- 
ticle of his on bottles.' " It so fortuned that I was as 
innocent of writing the article in question as I am of 
having murdered Eliza Grimwood, set the Thames on 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 361 



fire, or eaten the puppy pie under Marlow Bridge. It 
was a pure matter of fancy on both sides. Charles 
Austin fancied that I did not like him, and I fancied 
that he did not like me. 

But I must say a word more about the Saturday. 
To the first number I contributed only the first of a 
series of papers, entitled " Travels in the County of 
Middlesex," and an essay on the year, called " Annus 
Mirabilis " ; but in the second number 1 began a serial 
fiction, called "The Seven Sons of Mammon." By 
this time I had begun to be known. " Gaslight and 
Daylight," "Looking at Life," "Lady Chesterfield's 
Letters to Her Daughter," " How I Tamed Mrs. 
Cruiser," and other opuscules had made me widely 
known, and had brought me plenty of readers, plenty 
of reviewers, and from the majority of the last-named 
Christian friends plenty of virulent abuse. The Satur- 
day Review followed the lead of the Times in reviling 
the " Journey Due North." I arose from the perusal 
of the Saturday s two-column invectives with the un 
easy, although happily transient, impression that per- 
haps I wasj after all, the ignoramus, the impostor, 
the plagiarist, and the blockhead which the Saturday 
seemed to think I was ; and that I only needed cour- 
age to be a pickpocket or a smasher. To periodical 
streams of similar abuse in the columns of the 5^/- 
tirday I was subjected from i860 to 1867, by which 
period I had written between twenty-five and thirty 
books, 

I have more than once hinted that I am afflicted 
with a very violent temper; and my first impulse 
when I read my Saturday at breakfast, and found the 
usually savage attack upon my writings, was to sit 
down and write a polite note to the editor, at his of- 
fice in Southampton Street, Strand, telling him that he 
was an anonymous coward, liar, and scoundrel After 



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362 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

a while I would bolt my breakfast, and then a slight 
solace would come in the shape of a fragrant Havana. 
That would be precisely my wife's opportunity. She 
had never said a word while I was raging at the Satur- 
day and penning the wrathful letter ; but when 1 'had 
got about half-way through the regalia, she would say 
mildly, ** Don't you think it's about time, dear, that 
you let the man go to the Devil?" and to the Devil 
accordingly did my letter to the Saturday Review go — 
that is to say, it went into the waste-paper basket in 
summer, and into the fire in winter. Calmly review- 
ing in this the late evening of my life that which I 
have done in letters and in journalism, I have arrived 
at two very carefully decided conclusions : first, that 
the Saturday Review was in many respects quite justi- 
fied in reviling me ; and, next, that the animadversion 
of that able journal did me a great deal more good 
than harm. In fact, I fail to see that beyond the oc- 
casional exacerbations of temper caused by the abu- 
sive articles about myself which I perused, and the 
waste of a certain quantity of stationery in writing let- 
ters to the editor which I never posted, that the hos- 
tility of the Saturday Review did me any harm at all. 
I was earning at the time when it was wont most 
fiercely to attack me, say, in 1863, about £2^000 2l 
year, and I cannot remember, save when I was pros- 
trated by sickness, to have earned since then a smaller 
annual income. Nor did the Saturday prevent me 
from acquiring a certain amount of popularity. Cele- 
brated I never was, and celebrated I have never 
wanted to be ; yet I have been as well known for many 
years past as Horniman's tea or Thorley's food for 
cattle, or any much-advertised soap that you care to 
know. The Saturday was equally mistaken as unjust 
in asserting that I was wholly destitute of humour and 
of learning ; but it was quite right in accusing me of 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 363 

writing in a turgid, inflated, and bombastic manner. 
Style, the French philosopher has said, is the man; 
and my style, from the English point of view, is and 
has always been incurably vicious. I was brilliantly 
educated, but half my education was imparted to me 
at a French public school, and the academy which I 
have described at Turnham Green ; and the remainder 
I have acquired by personal study, which will not be 
relaxed till I grow blind, or die. During the six years 
of my connection with Dickens on Household Words, I 
had to subdue my tendency to use words derived from 
the Latin instead of the Anglo-Saxon. As I have 
often said, I could speak French and Italian before I 
could speak English even tolerably ; and it was only 
by the sternest of mental efforts that, while Dickens 
was my chief, I abstained as far as I could from using 
what Samuel Taylor Coleridge, following Horace, used 
to call sesquipedalian words. Moreover, Dickens's 
young men were, to a certain extent, constrained to 
imitate the diction of their chief, and I fell in with the 
trick as deftly as perhaps my colleagues did. 

But when I joined the staff of the Daify Telegraphy 
and had a free hand in writing at least three thousand 
words every day, I soon relapsed into that style which 
so roused the ire of the Saturday, Out came, or, 
rather, streamed, the long-tailed words, the hyper- 
boles, the rhodomontade, the similes, and the quota- 
tions dragged in by the head or by the heels. I knew, 
perhaps, but little ; but I made as much as I could of 
what I knew. I was impatient, dogmatical, illogical, 
and could be myself from time to time aggressive and 
abusive. Many years afterwards, staying with Lord 
Rosebery at The Durdans, near Epsom, I found among 
the guests Sir William Vernon Harcourt ; and in the 
course of after-dinner chat the present Chancellor of 
the Exchequer alluded to his former connection with 



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364 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the journal which used to hold me in such literary 
hatred. " Why," humorously observed Sir William, 
" at one time, Venables, Parson Scott, and I must have 
written more than half the Saturday between us/* 
** Parson " Scott was a highly-respected and erudite 
clergyman, the father of Mr. Clement Scott, the dra- 
matic critic of the Daily Telegraph, Of course, I said 
nothing at The Durdans about the Saturday s dealings 
with me ; but 1 could not help wondering in my mind 
whether I had ever been indebted for one of the slash- 
ing reviews in the Saturday to the pen, equally vigor- 
ous and graceful, of Sir William Vernon Harcourt. 

I have often been asked why, when I was some 
thirty -five years of age, I should practically have 
abandoned literature for journalism. I quoted Cole- 
ridge just now ; read what the great philosopher has 
to say about literature in his " Table Talk " : — " It 
would be a sort of irreligion, and scarcely less than a 
libel on human nature, to believe that there is any es- 
tablished and reputable profession or employment in 
which a man may not contrive to act with honesty and 
honour ; and doubtless there is likewise none which 
may not at times present temptations to the contrary. 
But woefully will that man find himself mistaken who 
imagines that the profession of literature, or (to speak 
more plainly) the trade of authorship, besets its mem- 
bers with fewer or with less insidious temptations 
than the Church, the Law, or the different branches of 
commerce. Let literature be an honourable augmen- 
tation to your arms, but not fill the escutcheon." I 
knew perfectly well that I was altogether destitute of 
a particle of that genius without which I could never 
excel or become renowned in pure letters ; but, on the 
other hand, I was fully cognisant of the fact that 1 had 
learned my trade as a journalist, and that I could earn 
a handsome income by it. 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 365 



I did not bid farewell to the Muses, as Blackstone 
did. 1 read with a greater avidity than ever ; but I 
was content with studying all the books that I could 
get hold of, and to cease for the time being to write 
any. Thus it was with deliberation that I devoted 
myself to the calling of journalism ; and that calling 1 
have followed in the columns of one daily paper for 
seven-and-thirty years. I have never put myself for- 
ward as a representative writer for the press. I am 
not even a member of the Institute of Journalists. I 
was subpoenaed once as a witness to speak as to news- 
paper custom in some litigation between the editor of 
a Yorkshire paper and its proprietor, who had dis- 
missed him, as the editor thought, without sufficient 
notice. I went down very unwillingly to Leeds ; but 
on the morning when the case was to come on, I 
sought out Mr. Waddy, Q.C., the counsel who was to 
examine me in the interest, I believe, of the plaintiff, 
and put the case clearly before him. " Look here, Mr. 
Waddy," I said ; " I am about the last witness you 
should call to testify as to the custom of journalism, 
for the reason that about that custom I know abso- 
lutely nothing. With the great daily paper with 
which I have been connected for so many years, I 
have no kind of contract or engagement, and no settled 
salary. I am paid, and liberally paid, not by the week, 
month, or year, but by the piece. If the proprietors 
wish to get rid of me, they are free to say so to- 
morrow ; and if I wish to get rid of them, I have only 
to make my bow and take leave of Peterborough 
Court for ever." Mr. Waddy laughed ; his junior, 
Mr. Atherly Jones, laughed ; and with their concur- 
rence I took the next train for London, and was not 
examined in the case at all. 

Between my novel in Temple Bar and my daily 
work on the Telegraph I had plenty of work on my 



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366 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

hands ; still I had leisure to add an additional ;^25o a 
year to my income by writing a weekly column of 
literary and artistic gossip under the title of " Echoes 
of the Week," in the Illustrated London News. Shrewd 
Mr. Herbert Ingram had not forgotten our meeting 
on board the Great Eastern; and, at the secession, 
through ill health, of Peter Cunningham, F.S.A., who 
had hitherto been his purveyor of hebdomadal gossip, 
he asked me to write the column in question. Peter 
Cunningham was a character ; the heartiest, kindest, 
cleverest soul that you could know and love. He was 
a son of that Allan Cunningham, marble-mason and 
poet, who was for so many years chief assistant in the 
studio of Sir Francis Chantrey, the sculptor, and who, 
in his later years, wrote a most amusing work, " The 
Lives of the English Painters." Peter, like my own 
dear brother Charles, was a Blue-coat boy ; and he 
had another brother, who went out to India as a cadet, 
in the service of the East India Company. A long 
time after Peter's death I became acquainted with this 
brother. Colonel Francis Cunningham, an accom- 
plished gentleman and elegant writer. I do not think 
that Peter went to the University ; but when he was 
quite a young man one of his father's influential friends 
obtained for him a clerkship in the Audit Office at 
Somerset House. 

There, as I suppose, he had plenty of leisure — for 
Civil servants were not very severely worked in those 
days — his taste for antiquarian research became largely 
developed, and he was also an ardent student of the 
literature of the Georgian era, his proficiency in which 
last and delightful branch of study led to his being 
commissioned by Mr. John Murray, of Albemarle 
Street, to edit the " Memoirs and Correspondence of 
Horace Walpole." These and many other kindred tasks 
he executed with surprising acumen and accuracy; 



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THE STARTING OF TEMPLE BAR 367 

but to my mind his magnum opus of research was " The 
Handbook for London," quite recently expanded and 
re-edited by Mr. Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A., under 
the title of " London, Past and Present : Its History, 
Associations, and Traditions." With the aid of Cun- 
ningham, Wheatley, Loftie, and last, but not least, 
Casseirs " Old and New London," the " intelligent 
New Zealander " might with ease compose any num- 
ber of metropolitan stories and essays without being 
at the pains of visiting England to sit on a potentially 
decayed London Bridge in order to sketch the equally 
hypothetical ruins of St. Paul's. Peter married Miss 
Zenobia Martin, the daughter of that extraordinary 
painter, John Martin, mezzotint engravings of whose 
grand scenes from Babylonian history and " Paradise 
Lost " used to fill my mind with astonishment when I 
was a boy. 

Peter and I were great allies ; and, without forming 
ourselves into a regular club, P. O. Blanchard Jerrold, 
Wiltshire Austin, Rudolph Gustavus Glover, of the 
War Office, Joseph Charles Parkinson, then also at 
the Audit Office, Vizetelly, Alfred Dickens, Inspect- 
ing Engineer of the Board of Health, who had been a 
pupil of Brunei, Frederick Dickens, of the War Office 
(both brothers of the novelist), and myself,* used to 
dine three or four nights a week at certain favourite 
restaurants — Blanchard's, then in Beak Street; Gi- 
raud's, in Castle Street, Leicester Square ; the " Sol- 
ferino," in Rupert Street, Haymarket; and Stone's, in 
Panton Street. Poor Peter Cunningham's fortunes 
were wrecked over the Manchester Art Treasures 
Exhibition. He was a consummate judge of art in its 

*The clericalstaffof the great Public Department in Pall Mall has giTen 
numerous recruits to the ranks of literature. Among them I may mention Tom 
Hood, son of the author of The Song of the Shirt," and Clement Scott Curi- 
ous to remember that Leigh Hunt was, in his early adolescence, a clerk in*the 
War Office. ' 



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368 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

out-of-the-way phases, such as miniatures, enamels, 
carvings, and mediaeval jewellery, and tlie Audit Office 
gave him six months' leave in order that he might as- 
sist the Executive Committee of the Exhibition by his 
valuable advice and experience. He could never get 
his neck back again into the collar of official routine ; 
and, after awhile, he retired on a pension ; threw up 
his journalistic engagements in London, and betook 
himself to the pretty town of St. Albans, in Hertford- 
shire ; his companion being Frederick Dickens, who 
had also retired on a pension from the War Office, 
and John Reeve, the eldest son of the admirable low 
comedian, " Jack Reeve." 

The younger Reeve laboured under what I have al- 
ways held to be a terrible social affliction. He had in- 
herited a moderate but comfortable competence ; he 
had nothing to do, and died practically of doing noth- 
ing. It was while Fred Dickens, with Peter and John 
Reeve, were residing at St. Albans, that F. Dickens 
discovered that unwashed hermit, whose principal 
garment was a dirty blanket, secured at the throat by 
a skewer, who kept his cheque-book in a fish-kettle, 
and was accustomed to administer a small silver coin 
and a glass of gin to any wayfarer who could say his 
paternoster in Latin — the hermit was a Roman Catho- 
lic — and who was made by Charles Dickens the pivot 
on which the stories in " Tom Tiddler's Ground," one 
of the Christmas numbers of All the Year Rounds re- 
volved. 



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CHAPTER XXXII 

UPTON COURT 

It was in i860 that it occurred to me that I might 
palliate the severity of my daily toil if I changed the 
venue of my domicile. So one Saturday — the journal- 
ist's Sabbath — when, at least, he does not write leading 
articles for the Sunday papers, we went down to 
Windsor ; dined at the good old " White Hart *' inn, 
and then took a fly and drove about the neighbour- 
hood, which, to me, has always been the most enchant- 
ing in Europe, in search of a house to let We found 
one, precisely to our mind, at Upton-cum-Chalvey, a 
little bit of a village a few hundred yards from Slough. 
The house was known as Upton Court ; it was said to 
have been originally a " cell," or dependency of Mer- 
ton Abbey, and assuredly was not less than five 
hundred years old. I conjectured that in Stuart times 
Upton Court had been the lodge of the Master of the 
Royal Buckhounds; since, to one of the fire-places, 
there was a wrought-iron back, embossed with the 
Royal arms and the inscription " C.R., 1630," or there- 
abouts. The house had a high-pitched roof covered 
with thatch, a pretty lake in front ; and in the grounds, 
which were very extensive, there was a lovely rosery, 
where no less than eighteen varieties of the prettiest 
and most fragrant flowers in the world were culti- 
vated; and there were the well-stocked orchard and 
flower-garden. The grounds were approached from 
an old-fashioned pair of iron gates between stone pil- 
lars in the high road, but the nearest way of getting to 
24 



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370 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

the place was through Upton churchyard. The rude 
forefathers of the hamlet slept just beneath the win- 
dow of the room which we fixed upon as our sleep- 
ing apartment ; but the churchyard was so green, so 
peaceful, and, to my thinking, so beautiful, that we 
never troubled ourselves about miasma or malaria, or 
any other scientific scares. People in the 'sixties lived 
and died, married and had children pretty much as 
they do now ; and as Mr. Walter Besant would put it, 
" The world went very well then." At present we 
seem to live in one continuous state of alarm about 
Bacteria and Bacilli, Parasites, Microbes, and cognate 
foes. When I was a young man Ascaridae, or minute 
intestinal worms, were nearly the only bogies that the 
scientists used to frighten us with; and Raspail, the 
French Republican and chemist, in his yearly Alma- 
nack of Hygiene, used to tell his readers that they 
might defy the Ascaridae if they ate plenty of spice 
and drank freely of the Liqueur Raspail, a nostrum of 
his own concoction, and which was nearly as tooth- 
some as green chartreuse. 

There were plenty of bedrooms at Upton Court, and, 
moreover, there was a Hall, the floor laid with tiles, 
and an open timber roof. I felt quite baronial when I 
settled the terms for taking Upton Court for a year : 
the proprietor being a worthy coal merchant, who 
resided at Windsor town itself, in a house built by Sir 
Christopher Wren. Of course, there was a Ghost 
attached to Upton Court ; but no extra charge was 
made by my landlord for the phantom. The appari- 
tion was declared, on the most unimpeachable maid- 
servant testimony, to be that of a lady in a white night- 
dress, and her long hair streaming down her back. 
Where, I wonder, do ghosts get their night-gowns? 
Are there any couturikres pour revenants ? The lady- 
ghost at Upton Court usually appeared on Friday 



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UPTON COURT 371 



nights ; and wrung her hands, like Lady Macbeth in 
the play, in a manner pitiable (so they said) to behold. 
According to a charwoman of long-established verac- 
ity, the ghost would occasionally utter a piercing 
scream. I never saw this eidolon during my two years* 
tenancy of Upton Court ; but, having to sit up very 
late at night writing my Temple Bar copy, I certainly 
heard very often the strangest of noises. For one 
sound I could, without difficulty, account. 

We had three varieties of rats on the demesne. 
First, the lake was infested by water-rats, one of which 
was so huge, and had such very long grey whiskers, 
that when he came up in quest of my ducks, I chris- 
tened him Marshal Blucher. He was an inveterate 
duck-hunter, so being but a blunderer in the use of 
firearms myself, I sent a note to my landlord's son, 
who was a gentleman-farmer hard by, and asked him 
if he would be kind enough to step round and shoot 
the monster. Subsequent to his decease, no less than 
the remains of six ducks were found in the old villain's 
lair. Then came the barndoor rats, which strayed into 
my grounds from the neighbouring farm, and were so 
plump, and so glossy and tame, that one grew almost 
to like them. Finally, there were the rats behind the 
old oak panelling in the hall and the dining-room ; and 
an infernal vacartne did those rodents make during the 
small hours. I never caught sight of one of them ; I 
have not the slightest idea of their means of existence ; 
but they were historic rats, since I found in an old 
book of travels in England, published in the reign of 
Queen Anne, that the disturbance made by the rats 
behind the panels at Upton Court House could only 
be compared to the clatter of the hoofs of a troop of 
horse. Now the noises which so frequently disturbed 
me resembled not the tramping of horses, but the 
crunching of the gravel in the garden outside by hu- 



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372 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

man feet, and, putting this and that together, I came 
to the opinion that the sound arose from the prowling 
around of the gipsies, with whom the neighbourhood 
then abounded, and who were bent on stealing my 
fruit and my firewood. 

Most enjoyable was our life at Upton Court; al- 
though I had to go to London every day except Sat- 
urday: taking the ten o'clock express from Slough 
station to Paddington, and returning by the six o'clock 
express, which made the journey — some eighteen 
miles — in as many minutes. It was, in fact, a portion 
of the train known as the " Flying Dutchman,** and 
the carriages destined for Slough were hitched off at 
Kings Langly, and ran into Slough by their own mo- 
mentum. I had a dear young friend, an artist, named 
William Romer, the brother of the wife of Robert 
Brough. He was a very capable painter, and might 
have done great things if he had lived; he stayed 
with us many months at Upton Court, painting and 
keeping my wife company. Saturday was our general 
holiday. Never shall I forget the delicious rambles 
on a summer evening across the Playing Fields to 
Eton ; through the meadows to Datchet ; and then, 
sometimes, to Salt Hill, and to Stoke Pogis. I went 
over to Eton College one afternoon, and paid a visit to 
Dr. Goodford, the then Head Master of the school, a 
plump, cheery cleric, in a black silk cassock. He re- 
ceived me very affably in his library; and told me 
how sore he felt at some strictures which had 
recently been penned on the management of the 
school in the Cornhill. Those strictures were written 
by the late Mr. Matthew Higgins, the " Jacob Om- 
nium '* of the Times. He was of West Indian extrac- 
tion ; and so exceptionally tall, that of him and Thack- 
eray, who was likewise a son of Anak, there is told 
the story that when they once repaired together to 



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UPTON COURT 373 



the Egyptian Hall, where Chang, or some other 
g^ant, was on view, at a shilling a head admission, 
the money-taker refused to take their proffered cash, 
saying that he could not accept money from profes- 
sionals. 

Darkly and distinctly stands out in my memory, and 
never, probably, to be erased therefrom, one wintry 
morning at Upton Court. It was in 1861, in Decem- 
ber : within a fortnight of Christmas. As it came hap- 
pily closer and closer upon us, we were making great 
preparations for the joyous festival. A yule log had 
been ordered; there was to be snap-dragon in the 
Hall, the " mummers " — there were mummers in those 
days — were to come over from Slough and sing car- 
ols on Christmas Eve ; and the cook had made at least 
a dozen plum puddings and a whole army of mince 
pies. It has always been my belief that it is a good 
thing to begin eating your plum puddings from the 
first week in December, softly and gradually, so as to 
prepare yourself for the serious degustation of those 
and other dainties on Christmas Day ; and besides, 
we had need for many puddings, since as our guest- 
chambers were numerous, relays of friends used to 
come down to stay from Saturday till Monday with 
us. On Friday, the 12th, it struck me, as we had a 
large party in the house, that I should like to pass 
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at Upton Court ; so I 
made arrangements with my friends in Peterborough 
Court to be absent from the office on Sunday and 
Monday, provided always that something which the 
whole English nation was dreading, did not happen. 
The wise and good Prince Consort was lying desper- 
ately sick at Windsor Castle. 

We dined on the night of Saturday, the 13th, quietly 
but cheerfully ; still I own that my mind was from 
time to time perturbed, and that it wandered to Wind- 



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374 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

sor's hoary keep and the illustrious invalid there. We 
went betimes to bed ; but I was up on the morrow at 
break of day. I hastened into the garden and gazed 
across Datchet Mead towards Windsor. The mists 
were rising from the fields, but I could just dimly 
see in the distance the Round Tower and the Royal 
Standard half-mast high. Xhe Prince Consort was 
dead. Of course I had to hasten to London, and to 
the office ; and I wrote the first and the fourth leading 
articles, dwelling on the lamentable disaster which 
had occurred, and speaking with the reverent sym- 
pathy, of which my heart was full, of the terrible be- 
reavement which had fallen, like a thunderbolt, on 
the best of Queens, the best of wives, the best of moth- 
ers, who was then, as she is now, comforted by the 
unquenchable loyalty and the inextinguishable love of 
her subjects. 

A few days afterwards it was my duty to attend 
the funeral of the Prince Consort in St. George's 
Chapel. It was a beautifully solemn, simple cere- 
mony. Not a uniform, not an official in court dress 
was to be seen in the Chapel; even Garter, when 
he proclaimed the style and titles of the deceased 
Prince, wore neither crown nor tabard. The only 
symbol of state in connection with the interment was 
the booming of minute guns discharged in the Park 
by a battery of Horse Artillery. The representatives 
of the press when they attend state functions in St. 
George's Chapel are singularly well accommodated. 
They are placed over the rood-screen, or rather in its 
modern substitute the organ-loft ; so that they can 
gaze both east and west from the great door of en- 
trance to the sanctuary and the altar. Thus, we could 
see the funeral cortege slowly moving along the strip 
of black carpet laid on the marble pavement of the 
nave; and then, reversing our position, we could 



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UPTON COURT 375 



watch the procession as slowly passing into the choir; 
the mourners silently taking their places in the stalls 
allotted to them. The grave, or Royal tomb-house, 
was in front of the altar ; and by means of a simple 
mechanical arrangement the coffin sank slowly, almost 
imperceptibly, indeed, into the grave, there to remain 
until the completion of the Royal Mausoleum at 
Frogmore. 

At the time of the Prince's death the whole country 
was agog on the subject of the approaching Interna- 
tional Exhibition of 1862. The display brought to- 
gether on the I St of May in that year was larger, more 
varied, and more splendid than that of the World's 
Fair of 185 1 ; but to me the glories of the second tem- 
ple did not equal those of the first. I recalled regret- 
fully Osier's crystal fountain, Kiss's "Amazon," and 
the Comical Creatures from Wurtemberg — a marvel- 
lously droll and artistic gathering of small stuffed ani- 
mals playing at cards, eating, drinking,* dancing, and 
playing on musical instruments, I missed the tall old 
tree which the woodman had spared in '51, and which 
stood under the crystal dome of Paxton's unsurpassed 
structure. Other differences of a notable kind ex- 
isted between the first and second Exhibitions. The 
building, designed by an officer in the Royal En- 
gineers, was an extremely hideous one ; partaking, so 
I thought, equally of the aspect of a workhouse, a 
public bath and wash-house, and a gaol ; and I vent- 
ured to say so in a speech which I made soon after 
the opening of the Exhibition at a meeting of the So- 
ciety of Arts. Lord Granville was in the chair, and 
seemed highly amused at the vituperative language 
which I felt constrained in the interest of civil archi- 
tecture to use with regard to the disastrous barracks 
which the gallant officer of Sappers and Miners had 
evolved out of his internal consciousness. Inside the 



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Z76 LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

Exhibition, however, everything was very sumptuous; 
and the display presented two conspicuous departures 
from the lines laid down in 185 1. In that year no 
modern weapon of war was to be seen in the palace 
of glass and iron. In 1862 section after section 
showed cannon, gun, muskets, rifles, pistols, swords, 
daggers, and other munitions of warfare. The pro- 
moters of the First Exhibition had thought, good 
souls ! that the thousand years of war were over, 
and that the thousand years of peace were to be in- 
augurated ; but they had awakened from that dulcet 
dream in 1862. Solferino and Magenta had been 
fought, and the great American Civil War was in 
progress. 

Then again, a great change had come across the of- 
ficial mind with regard to the nature of the refresh- 
ment to be supplied to visitors at the Exhibition. In 
185 1 the creature comforts sold were light, not to say 
poor, and no ilcoholic beverages were procurable. In 
1862 a firm of refreshment contractors opened first and 
second-class restaurants and buffets, where everything 
excisable could be purchased without let or hindrance. 
I was present on the ist of May when the Second 
Exhibition was opened on behalf of the Queen by the 
Duke of Cambridge : the young Prince of Wales be- 
ing absent from England. 

It was in 1862 that I made the acquaintance, under 
sufficiently odd circumstances of the late Mr. Beres- 
ford Hope. Some journalistic colleague of mine told 
me that there was to be a public meeting held in the 
venerable Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, 
which, for many years past, had been officially dese- 
crated ; its curiously painted walls having been con- 
cealed by wooden pigeon-holes, which were stuffed 
with old records, few of them of any value ; the bulk 
being ancient writs, and other legal processes on 



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UPTON COURT 377 



parchment. My colleague said that he had been de- 
sired to ask me to attend this meeting : — not for the 
purpose of reporting it, which I was totally incapable 
of doing, but for some other object. So down I went 
one forenoon, and found the ancient Chapter House 
full of Church dignitaries, including the then Dean of 
Westminster, Dr. Richard Chevenix Trench, after- 
wards Archbishop of Dublin. The Bishop of Oxford, 
afterwards of Winchester, and popularly known, no 
man can tell why, as " Soapy Sam,*' was also present ; 
and there was besides a sprinkling of distinguished 
laymen. My colleague took me up to an athletic- 
looking middle-aged gentleman to whom he presented 
me, and I was told that the middle-aged gentleman 
was Mr. Beresford Hope, 

To my amazement, the Lord of the Deepdene shook 
me warmly by the hand ; said he was very glad to see 
me there, and asked me if I would be so kind as to say 
a few words advocating the restoration of the much 
degraded Chapter House. You may ask why I was 
astonished at this bland request. I was surprised be- 
cause Mr. Beresford Hope was the editor of the Sat- 
urday Review. What ! I, the ignoramus, the charlatan, 
the borrower from Lemprifere, the parrot copier of 
heraldic mottoes — I, forsooth — was to make a speech 
in the presence of bishops, deans, M.P.'s, and Fellows 
of the Society of Antiquaries. But I saw the humour 
of the thing at once. Mr. Beresford Hope knew that 
the journal which was so consistently gired at in the 
Saturday had reached an enormous circulation and 
possessed great social influence. Somebody must 
have told him that I possessed a capacity for express, 
ing my thoughts in tolerably coherent speech. Con- 
sequently, and very sensibly, Mr. Beresford Hope 
thought that the cause of the restoration of the Chap- 
ter House might be not ineffectually served as well 



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37^ LIFE OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 

by my tongue as by my pen. I followed Bishop Wil- 
berforce, who seemed perplexed to know where the 
money was to come from for the renovation of the 
Chapter House ; although he hopefully alluded to 
what he called " those inexhaustible milch-cows, the 
Ecclesiastical Commissioners/' 

I have a very faint remembrance of what my own 
speech was about. I only know that I doubted the 
willingness of Parliament to vote a sufficient sum of 
money to carry out the restoration : observing in my 
customary tone of youthful insolence that the Hon- 
ourable House was more inclined to squander the na- 
tional resources on engines of war than on works of 
peace ; and that he would have the greatest chance of 
obtaining a large sum of money from the House 
of Commons who invented a machine for propelling 
the largest quantity of hell-fire the longest possible 
distance. Singular to relate, the bishop and the dig- 
nified clergy did not look shocked at my rash utter- 
ances, and I was told that my speech was a success. 
At all events, when the meeting was over, I had the 
honour of walking from Poets* Corner to Trafalgar 
Square with an archdeacon. I hope that it did me 
good. 

I was afterwards made a member of the Restoration 
Committee, which was joined by my friend William 
Hep worth Dixon, of the Athenaum, and by Lord Tal- 
bot de Malahide : the last-named a ripe antiquary, and 
I should say a rather waggish peer ; since his lordship 
is credited with having called the octagonal stone pul- 
pits, which were then coming into vogue again, " par- 
son-coolers." I had to go abroad, however, shortly 
afterwards, and the Restoration Committee knew me 
no more. For the time being the project of restoring 
the Chapter House came to nothing, and it was not 
until 1865 — Mr. Gladstone being Chancellor of the Ex- 



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UPTON COURT 379 



chequer — that, Parliament having voted the necessary 
funds, the restoration of the antique structure was be- 
gun, under the auspices of that consummate Gothic 
architect, Sir Gilbert Scott. The late Lord Henry 
Gordon Lennox was Chief Commissioner of Works 
when the restoration was completed. He was a great 
friend of Edward Lawson ; and one afternoon he came 
down to the office to fetch Mr. Edward Levy Lawson 
and myself, so that we might go down to Westminster 
and survey the structure which, under his aedileship, 
had been restored to its primeval dignity and beauty. 



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RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 
T0^^> 202 Moin Librory 



LOAN PERIOD 1 
HOME USE 



MAY 08 

m ig M/gnr 5 m JAN 9 zboi 



AU BOOKS MAY K RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

RciMwalt ami R«cliarg«« may b« mad* 4 day* prior to Hi* du* dol*. ' 

BooIm may b« Ranawod by calling M2-9405. 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 



Wli 



FEBl 01993 



APR 2 2003 



*• *> • » • 



^B 1:2 i QQ 



C'n - "ij!>rrpO Nf 



FORM NO. DD6 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
BERKELEY, CA 94720 



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